How to encourage your kids to pick up coding
Coding is a fantastic skill that many believe will become essential very quickly, especially in technologically-progressive Singapore. That said, however, we think this is less of a matter of whether you should and more of a matter of whether you could. Our kids are inundated by a large number of classes, subjects, topics, and activities that they must complete – adding a whole new one, regardless of how useful it is, could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
So, then, how can you encourage your kids to pick up coding or programming, or digital skills in general?
A summary of digital skills
Coding is not the end-all-be-all of skills even in this modern world; when we ask if it is necessary for our kids to pick up coding, the core question we are asking is what we need to do to ensure the next generation is digitally and technologically literate. This is a question that is also being asked in the current workplace, as there are many people working in tech-adjacent roles.
For the purposes of our article, we will split technological literacy into two rough categories: the first is the ‘tech-lite’ category, and the second is the ‘tech-heavy’ category. ‘Tech-heavy’ professions may include software engineers, website developers, data scientists, and the like; on the other hand, ‘tech-lite’ skills are becoming more and more common and include things such as UIUX design, digital marketing, or even being able to use no-code platforms to develop applications.
What does this mean? The short and long of it is that your kids may not necessarily need coding skills to function in society in the future. As long as they are digitally literate and know roughly how digital innovations function, they should be able to pursue many non-technical roles and still do well.
However, it is certainly true that tech-heavy roles are becoming more and more essential in the workplace. With rising salaries, great benefits, and evolving innovations, tech-heavy professionals and experts are highly valued by institutions of all sizes now. So what does it take to prepare your kids with the skills necessary to pursue that direction, should they choose to do so?
Introducing your kids to tech-heavy skills
A coding class for teens (or children even younger). A children’s book called Computer Engineering for Babies. A coding school in Singapore. What’s the best path forward to introduce your kids to the complicated concepts of programming and coding?
While the modern university requires a significant number of math classes before embarking on many programming courses, the truth is that kids will likely pick up programming logic and conventions with ease, just like learning another language. If they exhibit a significant interest in it, a coding school in Singapore for young children may be something to consider so that they may train the skills as well as they might train an instrument.
Do be careful, however, to ensure that your kids still have enough time for themselves. Many kids burn out very early on attempting to balance their academics alongside extracurricular activities, and a coding class for teens is very much so an extracurricular activity at this point.
For those kids who are unable to attend coding classes or coding camps due to financial reasons, there are actually a massive number of free online resources that are able to teach coding, programming, and software skills. They range from YouTube tutorials to entire websites, and new languages have developed with syntaxes that are wonderfully easy to understand and forgiving. Young kids may do well with the side-by-side tutorials on Codecademy, for instance, and learn how to develop simple websites via a language like HTML. This is appealing for kids purely because you get to see the results on your browser easily and quickly.
On the other hand, teenagers who have a higher capacity for absorbing more information can look at something like Python, and learn how to apply those skills towards data analysis or other applications that they might be interested in. For instance, teenagers more interested in finance, stocks, and cryptocurrency may want to learn to develop simple models to predict certain things. On the other hand, teenagers more invested in public health may look at tracking factors related to that using publicly-available data from the World Health Organisation. Many things can be done at home without coding classes, although this approach is certainly less structured.
Packing your kids off to a coding boot camp may sound appealing at first thought, but it is important to assess whether they can even handle that workload in the first place. Furthermore, students who have less interest in ‘tech-heavy’ skills may simply develop their ‘tech-lite’ understanding via no-code learning platforms such as Thunkable, which allows everyone to develop phone applications without needing to understand code. On the other hand, those who exhibit interest in tech-heavy skills can start off either by joining a class or even doing things on their own at home during their free time via a less structured approach.
All of this will encourage your kids to learn digital skills in a relatively healthy way, and when done as kids this means that their fundamental understanding of how software architecture works will serve them well later in life.