In today's world, coding for kids is becoming increasingly important. Every device and screen is backed by a program that someone wrote. Technology is increasingly touching every aspect of our lives and the trend will not stop soon. So if you want to make a difference, coding is a skill that can be used to shape the world and make it a better place.
And it's not just adults who can code – kids can too! Ultimately it doesn't matter who created the piece of code: young, old, handicapped, in a tiny rural town, or in a developing country. Code is the great equalizer of opportunity. If you can write the code, you can change the world.
Let's break down the future of coding and how kids or teenagers can go about learning computer science specifically to have an impact.
The Future of Coding
Technology rapidly evolves. The cutting edge thing to know a decade or two ago might be irrelevant today. That might sound depressing — what's the point in learning now if it will not be useful soon? But the changing environment is what creates opportunity. Without it, the same people on top now would be on top forever.
Therefore it isn't important to focus on a single language or platform that is hot right now. Your first goal should be to establish an excellent understanding of the fundamentals that apply to any coding language. Laying a solid educational foundation will allow you to rapidly adapt no matter which way things go.
It is useful to think about broad trends though. So what does the future of coding look like? Python is a language that has been around a long time and only continues to increase in usage (Nassim Taleb would say its Lindy). Just five years ago Stanford University changed their first Computer Science class to use Python instead of Java. And most importantly, Python is the most used language for Artificial Intelligence.
AI is the future, specifically machine learning using different types of neural networks. Exactly what this means and why is out of scope for this article, but the good news is that the skills for AI still start with general coding education. You need to know Python well, including object-oriented programming and multidimensional arrays. So start building those skills now!
The Benefit of Kids Learning Coding Skills
One of the best things about coding is that anyone can learn how to do it. There are no age limits or prerequisites. As long as you're willing to put in the time and effort, anyone can learn to code. Kids have the most time available to devote to education. They don't expect an immediate output and are often content to follow their interests. This is an advantage and why this article is focused on kids, but the same recommendations are true for older folks.
Coding is a great way for kids to learn about problem-solving, logic, and creative thinking. It can also help them develop important 21st century skills like collaboration, communication, and adaptability.
The reason coding builds up so many valuable skills is that it is an engineering discipline. Yes, you understand the specific rules like a science, but you also create things from nothing like an engineer. How many school subjects are similar? Not many. So when setting out to learn how to code, you'll need to get your nose out of the book and get hands-on experience.
Project Based Learning
Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally relevant projects. For coding education, this means not following a step by step tutorial to make a project and instead making your own from the ground up.
Project Based Learning has been shown to be an effective and engaging way for students to learn. When students are passionate about the projects they are working on, they are more likely to be motivated and engaged in the learning process. In addition, PBL can help students develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills.
Kids learning to code might not know where to start. So it is fine to follow a tutorial to make a game like tic-tac-toe and learn some of the initial skills. Then the most valuable learning process is applying what you learned to a new yet similar situation, like Connect 4. You might fail without the step by step instructions, however the problem solving attempt will exponentially increase your learning from the tutorial.
Get a Mentor
As you progress in your coding skills, it’s important to get a mentor—someone who is experienced in the field and can help guide you as you learn. A mentor can give you feedback on your code, help you troubleshoot errors, and introduce you to new concepts and technologies.
Sometimes a mentor can take a more active role in teaching, like through a 1-on-1 online kids coding class. Other times a mentor provides motivation and guidance without talking about individual concepts or code. Both are valuable, although a hands-on mentor will accelerate your learning pace. You can find mentors through online coding communities, local meetups, or even by asking your friends and family if they know anyone who codes.
Kids who learn to code have a bright future ahead of them. They can shape the world with their coding skills in ways we can't even imagine. They can create new apps and websites that make our lives easier. They can develop games that entertain and educate us. They can create new ways to communicate and connect with people all over the world. The possibilities are endless.
Coding is an essential skill for the future. It's a way to bring your ideas to life and make them reality. It's a way to make a difference in the world. And it's a lot of fun. So if you're a kid who's interested in learning to code, don't delay. The future is waiting.