For instance, rather than just telling our kids that learning to code is important, what if we talked to them about what powers the app they’re in love with, or what drives the video game they can’t stop playing? What if they knew more about what goes into the technology they’re already consuming?
So, on the topic of coding, here are a few programming languages to introduce to your child. Each one is important in its own right—and will be valuable as a real-world skill—so try to focus more on choosing the one that is best suited to your child’s individual interests (and skill level).
Great for: Younger kids who enjoy writing, drawing, reading, and storytelling!
Why: Programming can be difficult to comprehend because it’s hard to “touch” or “see.” In fact, it looks nothing like we’ve ever seen before; that can be intimidating.
Visual programming, though, is, well, visual. It’s perfect for kids who don’t have any coding experience, thanks to its ability to show them just how fun and comprehensible coding can be. Basic concepts like if-then thinking and problem solving can be learned through drag-and-drop interactivity, puzzles, and block arrangement rather than lines of code.
How: Check out Scratch to learn more about getting started. The program was built specifically for kids, so you really can’t go wrong! Code.org is another great destination, offering a number of coding activities and resources for beginners.
Great for: Kids with big ideas, and those who enjoy playing video games. Also great for teens with an interest in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
You’ll find that kids using something like the aforementioned Scratch will be limited in the complexity of their creations. Python, then, is great for older children looking to get involved in a more real-world language.
Why: Python is one of the easiest coding languages to learn—and it’s so versatile! Thanks to simplified syntax and focus on whitespace, Python requires fewer lines to turn ideas into something tangible. Thus, those with an overflowing imagination can get started on a project fairly quickly, compared to other programming options.
How: Read through the benefits and uses of Python to get yourself familiar. Then, if it sounds like something your child would enjoy, have a conversation with them. Python also boasts a large community of developers, making for great support and additional research.
Great for: Those who are still thought of to be “beginners” who want to learn more about programming fundamentals. Perhaps they’re interested in web development and design, or other front-end/user-facing applications.
For: Kids with intermediate skills who want to take the next step! Perhaps they’re Minecraft lovers or teens preparing the take the Computer Science AP Exam.
Why: Evidence suggests that 90% of Fortune 500 companies leverage Java in some capacity. Thus, the language is in demand as one of the most-widely used in the world. Java can be utilized as the basis for game engines, mobile apps for Android, and much more.
How: Look into the different summer course options featuring Java (there are a few from iD Tech). Many feature the opportunity to build mods with Minecraft, or the aforementioned apps and games.
For: kids who have an interest in building 3D games. Also great for those interested in Windows apps, and others who have experience in the aforementioned Java.
Why: C# (“c sharp”) is similar to Java, and is a great beginner’s language. Thus, if your child is new to coding, or has experience in Java, C# is a great option. Plus, because it’s used to create third-party Windows apps, it’s a popular language as well.
How: Start by talking with your child about the different reasons why kids should learn to code (such as the fact that programmers are in high demand; coding gives kids a competitive advantage; it’s fun, while helping build secondary skills like creativity and problem-solving). From there, leverage your child’s interest of video games, and talk about how C# brings those games to life.
So, with the different options before you, how to do you choose the best programming language?
As summarized, think about the output—what is it your child can ultimately create with such skills? Also consider popularity and transferability, and how learning a particular language will benefit them down the road. Last, and importantly, think about skill level. Beginners will be more limited in their options, obviously, but will still have plenty of languages to choose from.
If after all of that you’re still stuck, just choose. Moving forward in any capacity is better than standing still! Perhaps a new passion is ignited, or maybe one falls flat. If the latter, cross it off the list, learn from it, and move forward with another.
Learning how to code in any language will put your child in great company, setting them up to take advantage of valuable opportunities ahead.
About iD Tech
iD Tech is the #1 summer STEM camp for ages 7-18, with programs held at 150+ prestigious locations nationwide including Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and more. Students can learn to code, design video games, produce videos, mod Minecraft, create with Roblox, engineer robots, model and print 3D characters, work with AI and machine learning, build laptops, learn about cybersecurity, and much more.
Why iD Tech?
- 20 years of experience as the #1 summer STEM educator.
- Alumni have gone on to launch startups, found non-profits, and land internships and dream jobs at Facebook, Google, and more.
- Trusted by 150+ prestigious universities to run programs on their campuses.
- Over 50 innovative, relevant courses to equip students with in-demand skills.
- World-class, tech-savvy instructors recruited, and trained in-person.
- Well-balanced, one of a kind summer camp culture.
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