5 Best Programming Languages for Kids and Teens
Children love to code — which is why parents are always on the lookout for easy programming languages for kids.
But what if you don’t know your CSS from your HTML? How do you choose from the many child and teen-friendly programming languages on the market?
Don’t panic! All kids coding languages teach computer science fundamentals, so don’t worry too much about making the “wrong” choice. In any case, whether they’re designing animations or building apps, junior coders are pretty savvy at working out what they want to do and finding the best programming languages to help them do it.
What Are the Best Programming Languages for Kids To Learn?
All of the programming languages recommended here are popular with kids and teens, so you’ll find tons of online resources and age-appropriate tutorials to help get things rolling. You’ll also find camps and classes near you where your child can take their skills to the next level in a more structured way.
Developed for the 8-16 age group by the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is the ideal programming language for young coders who want to start from, well, scratch.
There are no lines of code to compile or complex programming concepts to master—just a colorful, intuitive interface where users arrange blocks (graphical or sound-based) to create fully functional programs. In the process, kids sharpen their logic and problem-solving skills, which will stand them in good stead when they move on to more challenging programming languages.
Once young coders are signed into the Scratch website, they can create and share projects with millions of other users worldwide. From animated interactive stories to gravity-defying platform games, the scope of these projects is really only limited by your child’s imagination.
If your child watches Netflix or listens to Spotify, it might blow their mind to know they can learn Python, the programming language that powers these platforms.
That shows you how advanced Python is. But the reason that we love it is because it’s so flexible and intuitive. Its guiding philosophy is that simple is better than complex, making it an easy programming language for kids. Anyone who can read and understand plain English can learn to code in Python.
Unlike Scratch, Python is a typed language that uses lines of code and syntax such as loops, conditionals, and variables. It’s a great choice for young programmers who want to move on from visual programming and hone their problem solving and code debugging skills.
Lua is another easy programming language for kids, renowned for its intuitive text-based scripts and short learning curve. Like Python, it’s great for children who don’t want to wrangle with complicated syntax and functions.
Lua is also one of the best coding languages for video game development. It can be used for modding Minecraft worlds and coding games in Roblox.
Swift is one of the best programming languages for kids to learn, but it’s less versatile than some of the others. If you want to create a multi-platform hit that works on Windows machines and Android apps, Swift isn’t the best choice: It’s designed to work best on Apple products like Macs, iPhones, and iPads.
What Swift does have going for it is Swift Playgrounds, a puzzle-style iOS app that teaches kids the Swift coding language in an immersive, visually appealing way.
Why Should Kids Learn to Code?
For most kids, learning programming languages isn’t just easy, but also fun and fulfilling. It’s hard to top the thrill of going from complete rookie to building a playable Android app or controllable robot.
Coding is also about connecting. Young programmers can tap into virtual and real-life networks of like-minded enthusiasts for advice, tutorials, and socializing. In this way, kids who learn to code also sharpen soft skills like teamwork and communication — handy strings to their bow regardless of whether they pursue a career in computer programming.
Find Kids Coding Classes Near You