Naturally and intuitively you would think that coding is just for coders. Who could blame you since only coders code right? That’s an obvious assumption, but you’d be incorrect in making this assumption. Everybody can code now! And actually everybody should learn to code now! 

 

At theCoderSchool, the goal is to help teach coding to all kids. That’s right, “All” kids. We are not just trying to teach kids that want to major in computer science in college or only those that want to work as a software developer when they grow up. The target is absolutely all kids. We believe that all kids will benefit from learning to think like a coder.

 

Language Agnostic

The key is to be language agnostic. Don’t focus on forcing your child to learn a particular language such as java or any other language. The better thing to focus on is teaching them to improve their logic and problem solving skills and to think like a coder. The logic skills that they learn can forever be utilized, whereas the nuances of a particular language that are learned may end up useless. It’s quite likely that any language they’re learning now will be defunct by the time they’re in college or in the workplace. There’s certainly not a lot of value in knowing the syntax of Pascal or FORTRAN which are two of the languages that I learned at a young age. The more important learning is what comes to mind when presented with a problem such as “How would you write a program to write out all prime numbers from 1 to 100?”. The logic that enters your mind is what’s critical and can be employed in any language, and even a new language that hasn’t been invented yet.The logic to solve the prime number problem will always remain the same. It’s the languages that will keep changing, so no reason to focus on a particular language as a young child. Learning to code is not about memorization of the nuances of a coding language, but rather learning logic skills and how to solve problems. Now that we know this, we can better understand why coding isn’t just for coders. And of course why learning to code would benefit anyone. 

Sports

Learning to code will improve a child’s ability to solve problems. This can be helpful in places that are not so obvious. For example, it can help kids with sports. Beyond the physical skills needed to play a sport, many times sporting events are decided by the mental toughness of the athletes. By learning to think like a coder, children learn to solve problems which is a skill they can use when strategizing their X’s and O’s even in sports. They will be better equipped to change their strategy to fix something that is not working. 

Personal Life

A second not so obvious example is that learning to code can help children dealing with personal problems too. It teaches them to never panic and how to break large problems down into smaller ones that can be solved one at a time. It also teaches them that if they’re persistent and keep solving the smaller problems eventually a very large problem can be handled and solved. This same mentality will also without a doubt help them when dealing with personal problems completely unrelated to coding.

Financially

A third example is that in the workplace, those that have learned to code will on average make more. “Jobs requiring coding skills pay $22,000 more than positions that don’t, and the demand for employees with such skills is expected to grow 12 percent faster than the overall job market during the next decade.” according to Burning Glass Technologies. The findings from market research firm Burning Glass Technologies also shows nearly 7 million job openings in the U.S. required coding skills last year, representing 20 percent of the total market for “career-track” jobs. Coding is quickly becoming a necessity in positions outside the tech industry that never used to require it, including finance, manufacturing, health care, and art design. It’s getting tougher and tougher to escape.

Summary

In summary, I have to refer back to the title itself. Simply put, coding isn’t just for coders! It
truly is for and will benefit anyone that learns it no matter what professional field they are
targeting. As always, if you need some help or guidance in learning to code, don’t hesitate to utilize one of our Code Coaches®.

Learning to code is a process that won’t happen overnight. It’s true that some people get it faster than other things just like everything else in life. The reality is that everyone has to go through the necessary steps. Remember, learning to code is the process of learning how to think and skipping steps doesn’t mean you’ll get to the end faster.

Actually, there is no true end when learning to code. There are always going to be problems to be solved, processes to improve and new languages to learn. Learning how to do this quickly and efficiently is what learning to code is all about.

While coding can be frustrating, it can also be very fun and rewarding. The worst thing you can do is stress out about not learning something fast enough or getting mad at yourself for getting stuck on a single concept.

Learning to code takes time. You will get stuck on one concept for months and then one day it will click! When it does click it’s one of the most refreshing things that will happen to you. In other words, you’ll have an epiphany. Once you have the foundation in place, learning another language becomes much easier than it did the first time.

It’s also very important to take it one step at a time. Skipping steps could frustrate the learning process. How do you eat an elephant (if you ever wanted to, of course)? One bite at a time! Coding is like one massive never-ending elephant and stuffing too much in your mouth at one time will create an unpleasant experience.

Practice makes perfect but trying to be perfect will hurt your practice. Break stuff and mess up and you’ll learn faster. Make sure it’s in a structured environment, preferably with a code coach®, who can explain their thought process as you learn to fix it along the way.

Finally, learning with a group of people with the same end goal in mind makes coding more fun and much easier to learn. Coder school is an excellent after school environment that lends itself to learning how to code much faster than doing it by yourself.

Mindset tips I wish I knew when I started programming

PlayCanvas has been a great platform for teaching kids javascript at theCoderSchool. But before we get further into it, let’s set the stage with a little background information. Javascript is is a high-level, dynamic, weakly typed, object-based, multi-paradigm, and interpreted programming language. Wow, how many technical terms were in that description. Simply said, JS is awesome! It’s one of the core backbones of the World Wide Web. That’s really all that’s needed to be said right?

For obvious reasons the drag n drop languages such as Scratch and Snap are the best introductory languages as kids these days are starting into coding even before being able to type. However, as kids become ready for their first typed language, theCoderSchool is finding that a lot of them are choosing JavaScript. 

JS as a First Typed Language

Kids really enjoy and do well learning JS as a first typed language. It’s one of the easier and more engaging languages to help kids make the transition from drag n drop into typed coding. It allows their code coaches to keep them more engaged by introducing graphical programming more easily. With that said, the difficult part is to sustain their interest. Our code coaches at theCoderSchool have found that using the PlayCanvas platform has helped give their students a longer term engagement and focus. 

Why PlayCanvas Works

PlayCanvas is an opensource 3D game engine. It’s also a cloud-hosted platform which allows for easy accessibility from anywhere anytime simply from a browser. With everything that PlayCanvas offers, probably its most effective feature is its interactive 3D capabilities. The engine is capable of rigid-body physics simulation, handling three-dimensional audio and 3D animations. It allows kids to interact with 3D. Need we say more? It’s super engaging and fun while at the same time provides exceptional learning. It also challenges kids to build games and see other games that were built as inspiration.

project Ideas

One fun project idea that we’ve done is to allow your student to design and even 3D print out their own fidget spinner. We took a shortcut and uploaded an initial design into Blender, but in PlayCanvas you can do your own design or base it on a template as well. The basic design with the end caps is 3 separate design pieces (this is important if your going to 3D print it). Then allow your students to add a logo or their name to it which is always something kids love to do. Once you get the final design you like, it’s great if you have access to a 3D printer to print it out. If you don’t have a 3D printer, you can always outsource it at a reasonable cost. Don’t forget that you will need to purchase the ball-bearings separately. How can you go wrong when introducing the most popular fidget spinner combined with 3D printing. It’s a double win-win combo! 

A second project idea falls within the lines of the more traditional gaming genre which is always a hit with kids. You can have your students build anything resembling one of their favorite video games and you will almost certainly have a happy camper. You don’t have to build out the entire game. Most of the time, just replicating a few key features and functionality is enough. Here’s an example. It’s a 3D game where you control a spaceship and shoot asteroids.What’s not to like?

Last, but not least, is a third fun project that a student built which is quite creative. They created their own original game with an objective of navigating a watermelon down an unbalanced plank through spikes. Is that out of the blue or what? Check it out here.

Summary

In summary, one of the primary keys to kids learning will always be interest and engagement. There’s lots of great platforms and new ones keep popping up everyday. We’ve highlighted PlayCanvas as one in particular that works well, but more importantly, use whatever best suits you and your student to keep the both of you excited. There’s certainly no shortage of fun project ideas, and if you need some extra guidance don’t hesitate to utilize one of our Code Coaches®.