Coding has gained a more prominent role in the education curriculum of most countries in recent years. Python coding for kids is only one part of the story. So how much Python coding do kids learn at school?
The answer depends on many things. In this blog post, I'll look at how much Python coding kids learn and how it compares with other aspects of coding.
Coding for Younger Children
Young children rarely learn Python in schools. Although from the age of about 7, kids are ready to get started with Python coding, in almost all schools, they only learn some basic coding concepts using children's platforms such as Scratch at this age.
Scratch is easier to teach than Python and is therefore preferred by primary schools to cover the topics required by the curriculum.
Scratch is a good way to get the very young introduced to some of the ideas of coding. However, it's very different from coding in Python or any other real programming language.
However, it's unlikely Python will be taught to younger children any time soon in primary schools as the expertise needed is not available in primary schools.
HTML and CSS vs Programming
Coding can mean many different things. Often, coding is used as a synonym for programming. Indeed, the term programming is the more accurate word for the subject. Programming is the process of solving a problem using computations means. Coding is only one part of the programming process, and it involves the part where the code is written out. As all programmers will tell you, writing the code is only a small part of programming.
The term coding is also used when creating websites using languages such as HTML and CSS. These languages as not programming languages. When students are learning how to build websites with HTML and CSS, they're not learning programming. You can read more about the differences between programming and coding if you want to find out more.
Often students learn how to create simple web pages using HTML and CSS. This is a valuable skill to learn, although it should not be confused with programming.
Python Coding for Older Students
As students get older, they will move to learn a real programming language. Often these days, Python is chosen as the language to teach students. This is definitely a good choice. Most schools have moved to teach Python although some still opt for other languages. Python is by far the preferred language to use to learn programming for many reasons.
However, programming is a complex subject, and Python is a very broad language. Often, only the very basics of programming in Python are covered in schools. Even those who move on to study Computing for GCSE don't cover much of programming.
This is, in many ways, a shame as programming gets a lot more interesting once you get beyond the basics. The challenge is that programming is a very difficult subject to teach once you go beyond the basics. This creates a problem for schools as they're often not in a position to teach Python coding beyond the basics.
There's also a great discrepancy between how much coding is done between different schools. As the national curriculum is not very detailed on how much coding should be covered, schools who feel more comfortable with going further do so, but others stick to teaching kids how to write only very basic programs.
Kids could be doing more Python coding at school, in theory. However, the reality is that programming in general, and Python in particular, are difficult subjects to teach in a thorough and engaging manner without specialised instructors. This is a challenge that doesn't have any easy solution, and it's unlikely that schools will be able to cover much more Python coding than they already do in the foreseeable future.