Coding for Six-Year-Olds and Younger
Coding might not be the most enjoyable activity that would come to mind for a six-year-old. But with many schools teaching STEM curricula, learning resources and coding toys make it exciting and engaging.
At home, families can also help foster a love of technology and support critical thinking in the same way they help their kids learn reading, basic math, and how to ride a bike.
Is Coding Good for Young Kids?
Simply put: Yes! Children who explore technology and learn how to code get firsthand knowledge and coordination in using computers, but they’ll also have a creative outlet and develop excellent problem-solving skills that can serve them well in other areas of their lives. As a result, learning to code is becoming a mainstream part of essential computer literacy for kids.
If you’re not sure whether or not your six-year-old will enjoy coding lessons, remember that it appeals to various interests. Your child might love coding concepts if they:
- Enjoy playing on tablets or video gaming systems
- Enjoy challenging educational games, like puzzles or problem-solving activities
- Use drag-and-drop coding toys, like Code-a-pillar
- Enjoy free play with building toys such as LEGO
Of course, even if your child doesn’t express a strong interest in any of these things, they might latch on to computer coding as a new hobby.
The most important part to remember as a parent is to introduce kids coding challenges that are age-appropriate so beginners can get the foundational knowledge they need to be successful. As a child learns more about the basics of coding, they’ll find other, more advanced creative avenues to explore.
Best Coding Methods for Younger Children
Before pursuing the world of programming languages, help your child learn simple, fundamental skills through accessible apps, activities, and games. Some of the best coding platforms for elementary kids include:
Drag n’ drop
These programs are easy for early readers but don’t require users to know how to type, reducing frustrations from syntax requirements.
Engaging logic sites
- Kodable focuses on the concepts needed for computer programming and includes beginner lessons to help kids learn about loops, if/then statements, conditionals, and other programming basics in a step-by-step format.
- Code.org is a global effort to help kids 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.
If you thought a computer was a prerequisite to learning to code, think again. Many fun, tech-tree coding games help kids foster programming skills and strategies. Some offline games include:
- Code Master: a great board game that incorporates simple coding challenges
- Rush Hour: a logic skills-based game that requires you to get a car out of a traffic jam
- Chocolate Fix: designed by an expert in programming languages and formal logic, this game includes 400 prompts that challenge kids to solve a puzzle by organizing desserts
Best Coding Languages for Younger Kids
There are hundreds of coding languages used worldwide, but families of younger kids should introduce coding platforms with drag-and-drop visual block programming options like Tynker and Scratch.
Both of these coding languages teach fundamental concepts and help kids visually understand how they can control cause-and-effect with simple changes. Block programming makes it easier to understand the significance of programming loops and sequences and debugging.
What Programs Help Kids Learn Coding?
While Scratch is great for students looking for advanced coding challenges, ScratchJr is more introductory. It includes apps for creating scripts, making it easier for kids to learn about how actions control computer programming.
Many kids and families of beginners look to Minecraft for coding activities. Students can work independently or in groups to design and build their own characters and worlds.
Osmo is a program that transforms your tablet into a hands-on coding toy, introducing programming to young kids in a way that builds coding skills in progression with three hands-on tutorials.
Coding for Five-Year-Olds
By now, you recognize that coding isn’t just for older kids. There is no pivotal elementary milestone—even preschool and kindergarten students can start coding and learn through enriching experiences.
Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget stated in 1971 that children at the age of five are in what he called the preoperational stage. At this stage of child development, a child can understand mental representations via words and images. Following this theory, many experts agree that a child can start learning to code at five years old. They adapt programming languages to make it visual, fun, and rewarding, rather than syntax-rich or too challenging.
Plenty of apps and websites used by educators lean on block-based coding to introduce a child to computer science and logic.
Tactics to help five-year-olds learn coding
Five-year-olds will welcome the opportunity to learn about coding if it’s mindfully incorporated into their interests. Remember that at this age, it’s less about expecting a child to complete a full coding project, and more about rewarding their attempts and efforts. With limited reading skills, it’s important to lean towards visual options so kids can learn more independently about simple concepts like code blocks and cause-and-effect actions.
- Introduce it during free play with unplugged toys that provide STEM experiences
- Help them build their own robot with a simple robotics coding kit
- Enhance their collection of LEGO with the LEGO Boost Robotics Creative Toolbox
- Introduce an artistic child to animation tools that can help bring their artistic creations to life
- Update their iPad with apps for learning how to code, or choose video games that educate basic coding skills as part of the game
Is Your Six-Year-Old Ready to Code?
Give your kid a jumpstart down a STEM career path by enrolling them in coding camps for beginners. Our child-focused learning philosophy helps young coders foster logical thinking skills so they can advance in the world of computer science at their own pace.
theCoderSchool provides coding classes and camps that make it easy for curious, creative kids to explore computers and technology. With locations across the United States and flexible courses, including virtual learning, in-person classes, or private one-on-one lessons, we strive to provide new challenges and real-world opportunities for the next-gen to take their curiosities with technology to the next level.
Find a class near you and get in touch with the educators at theCoderSchool today if you have any questions.