In this article we'll discuss some ways to introduce and teach your 6 and under youngster how to code. Before we begin, let's first make it clear that it's actually absolutely fine not to teach your 6 year old coding. There's plenty of other things that a 6 year old is still trying to learn such as reading, basic math, or even riding a bike. But we know some parents might like to get a head start - so we thought why not write about it.
I have two daughters ages 4 and 6 so I have some relevant real world experience. Neither is currently actively learning to code. I did introduce my oldest to Minecraft when she requested it. She had some fun building structures in it, but then lost interest and I have not forced it. When she's ready again, maybe next year, we'll try it again, perhaps with a drag n' drop platform. Of course if your child shows an interest and is a bit ahead of the curve with their reading and math, by all means, it's a great idea to introduce them to coding via some very fun and engaging tools.Remember at this early an age, your kid probably won't even be able to type well enough to learn any typed language coding. Also, keep in mind their cognitive development level and ability to process logic is still forming. At this young of an age, here's a few ways to give them some exposure and introduce them to coding concepts.
Drag n' Drop
The drag n' drop coding platforms are a great way to go for young kids. These platforms remove the need to be able to type and any frustrations from syntax requirements, and can be good for even older kids. MIT's Scratch is one of the most popular of these languages - but generally we don't tend to recommend that for the really young since there's quite a bit of functionality to it. For the under 6 set, we recommend a more contained version like Scratch Jr. or Hopscotch. These are great iPad apps to get started, and are fairly self-driven and colorful with a simpler set of commands.
Engaging Logic Sites
There are many great logic sites for the youngster, but a couple of our favorites are:
1. Kodable (www.kodable.com) - This is a fun site for the youngsters to learn basic logic through fun logic challenges where they have to provide the steps and directions to navigate themselves from a starting point to an end point.
2. Code.org (www.code.org) - This is the ultimate site in trying to get everyone around the world to try coding. It has one of the best collections of fun logic games and challenges for kids to be entertained while also learning to code.
Ironically you don't have to be on a computer to start learning to code. Especially at such a young age, offline fun activities are a great way to get that coding mind started. Below are some of our favorite games:
1. Code Master - This is a great board game which is fun for beginners up to advanced as well. It's amazing how they've put these coding challenges into a fun board game. You have to try it to believe it.
2. Rush Hour - I'm sure you may have already seen this one as it's quite popular. You're forced to use your logic skills to get a car out of a a traffic jam.
3. Chocolate Fix - This one is similar to Rush Hour in that it's super engaging and just about as popular. This tends to be a great one for the kids as its primary pieces are all cupcakes.
Is your 6 year old Ready to code?
Don't forget, coding isn't for all 6 year olds! Some just aren't ready, and there's plenty of time. If they want to and are engaged though there are lots of different options available to get them started. And of course, all options are better when they are getting guidance and direction from a parent, or even better, a Code Coach® from a Coder School!