Computer Programming for Kids
It’s all very well us teaching our children to use a computer programme and navigate their way around the internet but what about teaching them how to write a computer programme or build a website?
The computer programmers of the future will need to take the computer world one step further and how better to do this than to get an early start? Not all children are cut out to be computer whiz kids but if your child has shown an aptitude, or just an enthusiasm, for maths and technology steer try to steer their passion towards constructive programming (and ideally away from hacking). Maths is fairly key to successful programming so if your child finds maths a struggle they are unlikely to enjoy experimenting with talking to a computer.
The BasicsThere are many software packages (some of them free) that are designed to get children thinking about creating their own games, graphics and internet content. Many of these packages work with content editor systems whereby the child can just drag and drop attributes into designated areas and then play them back to see what they have created.
For young children who are interested but not advanced enough to understand the complexities of ‘real’ programming this approach will feed their interest.
The Next StepTo understand how programming works you really need to understand the hardware, and this is especially true for children whose default question is ‘why’. Give your child a guided tour of the inside of a computer (there are books that give a fairly simple view of this) explaining how the programme tells the computer what to do and why that works.
An understanding of computing cause and effect will help your child to understand when their programme doesn’t work what the problem might be.
The LanguageMost child-friendly programming guides seem to work in Java and use this language as an example to show how you build a programme by linking concepts such as variables and functions, operators and expressions, and more complicated ideas including object oriented programming.
Programming code is called a ‘language’ for a reason because the terminology is hard to grasp unless you start at the very beginning.