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Which Coding Language Should My Child Learn First?
ed tech, parents, STEAM

Parents are constantly asking us which coding language we recommend starting with and why. In this post, we want to walk you through our proposed pathways for new coders of various ages.

Before we jump into our recommendations for specific age-ranges, we think it’s important to look at the big picture. Most importantly, although we believe in teaching real languages that are actually used by professionals, we also acknowledge that much could change by the time our students enter the working world. Given that new languages pop up pretty often, there should be two primary objectives for any coding education experience:

  1. Getting students interested in coding
  2. Teaching them how to learn new languages quickly

Specific technical skills do matter, but only to a certain point – it’s the enduring and fundamental concepts of programming that are truly important. That’s why we decided to focus our curriculum on these overarching objectives, but we also make sure to use the skills and techniques that are currently in demand professionally.

With that in mind, let’s dive into our proposed learning pathways!

Ages 10 and Under

We highly recommend MIT’s Scratch program for kids looking to get started with coding. Scratch is a great primer because it’s drag-and-drop programming, which allows students who don’t have advanced typing skills to easily learn the logical rules and core concepts of coding. Scratch builds these computational thinking skills, and it’s even used in college classes in schools like Harvard! Developing computational thinking accomplishes one of our main objectives: teaching students how to learn coding languages.

Scratch is also an amazing tool for getting kids interested in coding since users get immediate feedback on what they’ve just built. Moreover, Scratch’s design is fun and kid friendly, and it was created with projects like music videos, video games, and animated storylines in mind. It’s an easy way for kids to build real skills while feeling like they’re playing!

Ages Over 10

10-year-olds and up usually have pretty strong typing skills, so at this point they can either start with Scratch, or jump right into text-based languages. If they’re diving into text-based languages, we recommend starting with web development using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Students are able to get instant feedback on their work (similar to Scratch), and they learn quickly how multiple languages and scripts can interact to make a single project.

Another option for this age range is Python. We think Python is a great starter language because it has a pretty approachable syntax and is relatively easy to pick up.

However, we don’t start kids out with Python in our courses because it isn’t super engaging for kids who aren’t immediately passionate about coding. That said, it’s an in-demand language that can be used in a wide range of circumstances, from web development to data science. So, if your child is already super engaged in their coding education, we highly recommend they learn Python in addition to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

So, there you have it! At the end of the day, we want kids’ first experience with coding to be fun, engage their creativity and critical thinking, and build real skills.

Parents: want to put this newfound knowledge into action?! Our fall classes start September 9! We have after-school and Saturday programs, so check out our schedule and enroll your child or teen today! Have questions? Email Debra Feinberg or call us at 866.407.2345 x1.

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