Coding for kids has taken on a variety of approaches for centuries. Take the ubiquitous Pong games, for example. It couldn’t be easiest to learn how to play because you were required to learn how to use a technique called ” rectangle-square coding,” where you passed a piece of paper with a certain shape through an “X” to create pictures. Your computer would then need to be set up with a means of storing pictures in numbers, as Pong uses numbers to fill the screen with various yoyo squares and spares. This is a fantastic game, and it represents one of the simplest forms of way to Code for kids.
Another choice for kids to learn how code is played in a game is with educational computer games. Educational games for all ages are easy to find. Educational games have a lot in common, which is that a game for kids is designed with educational content and you get the benefit of the fun parts of playing the game, albeit perhaps in a small way. Some of the more popular educational games on the market have educational games for kids that increase vocabulary while another teaches high math facts. The educational games available on the market all work under the assumption that kids are built out of facts.
Unfortunately, those who create educational games for kids aren’t very concerned with teaching their information or rapidly developing their children’s learning skills. The traditional approach in educational game creation has always been to hide the learning in fun-filled, entertaining ways, and to not bother doing anything with the child’s learned knowledge. But the problems with that approach are many. First, if you hide the learning time in an entertaining way, your child is likely to lose interest and for long periods of time, the child will be effectively learning little or nothing at all. Second, it has been my experience (and that of my peers) that traditional approaches to educational games are almost always, at least in the case of children, very shallow in common content areas such as math or science.
Physically, the third downside to traditional teaching-learning games is that there are almost too many to fit into any available school syllabus, let alone the Content Curriculum of Common Core. Video games and computer sites are often “forced” upon a child when a teacher is not available to teach. And educational games designed for kids also suffer from the problems stated in the second paragraph. Children are not receptive to this type of approach and the game does not contribute, or impress, the content as either the teacher’s or the student’s does. Many children, including my own, have absolutely no interest in learning about the solar system using Ask to Make Mosaics as one way.
So what does learning in the traditional way have to do with learning in the current age of computer driven, online-learning? The answer is: Everything! In our age of computer driven, online-learning, traditional learning is doing more harm than good, moreover, education is being slowly replaced with information-gesstaking activities that are filled with all the “junk” that the kids are luring them into. In this age, everything is hard to learn!
Seasoned educators have sadly begun to acknowledge that when it comes to educating children, computer-driven, online-learning strategies are from their infant to their full-grown children. The curriculum is being reduced, their perception of using flash cards is reduced and the actual study of what’s being studied is reduced as well. In short, traditional learning isn’t enough any more.
As a child development trainer who has been studying what educational computer technologies can do for children, my view on modern-day “learning” has been reinforced. I no longer doubt the skills that traditional learning techniques can provide children. I just don’t believe that the traditional methods of teaching children are the best ones!
Coding for kids can get kids through the first step of something that thousands of children have learned to do: writing a simple, easy to read, logical story. Coding for kids doesn’t just get them through the first half of their story. The process it involves is one of critical learning and understanding. Coding for kids usually means learning the computer concepts associated with math operations and structure, such as negative numbers, prepositions, placed periods and all of the other ideas that are found in many other fields (art, gastronomy, physics, history etc). Coding for kids generally means learning not just the alphabet, but how to do addition, subtraction, census and averages. the process of writing a story including all of the vocabulary and grammar rules that the reader needs to know to produce a well-written story.