At codetoday we have always been very keen to talk to parents to help explain what coding is and how we approach the subject when teaching it.
Unlike other subjects our children learn, coding is one that many parents have no experience with, making it harder to guide and help their children.
This means we've been asked many questions about coding. Here are the most common ones. The result: the definitive parents' guide to coding.
1. Is coding for students who are good in Maths?
Short answer: No
Students who like Maths and are good at it will also enjoy coding and are likely to be good at coding as well. This is because the same logical and systematic thinking is useful for both subjects. But the opposite is not true: you do not need to be good at Maths to enjoy and be good at coding. Coding allows you to be creative and innovative and we see many students who love subjects such as art and creative writing who enjoy coding as another way of expressing their creativity.
2. Why does my child need to learn coding?
Short answer: To learn how to think
We don't teach coding to children so that they can become professional programmers when they grow up just as we don't teach Maths so that they can become professional mathematicians. A small number of them will do, but that's not the reason we teach the subject. Coding is the perfect subject to "teach" children how to think and solve problems. Every program we write in coding is a problem-solving exercise in which an idea needs to be broken down into logical steps. Writing a computer program is a bit like solving a puzzle.
3. What's the difference between Scratch, Python, Java, C++, HTML?
Short answer: Scratch is a children's platform, HTML is not a programming language, the others are but some are better than others when learning.
What matters is not what language students learn. The focus is on learning coding, not a coding language. Still we need a language to code. And there are many options out there. Most children start with Scratch or similar children platforms that introduce some of the basic concepts in coding. But one cannot learn coding without using a proper coding language. Python, Java, C++, Swift are among the most common languages we hear about today. But they're not all the same. Python is by far the ideal one to learn for beginners of all ages. Oh, and HTML is not a programming language but a markup language so shouldn't really be included in this list.
4. Is coding boring? Will my child enjoy it?
Short answer: No, if taught properly and Yes, if taught properly
Coding is a fascinating and exciting subject. But it is often taught in a slightly boring way, especially when proper languages such as Python are bing introduced. This is unfortunate. If coding is taught following a well planned curriculum, using engaging projects, by instructors who are very fluent in programming, then students will be engaged and enthused. We see this every day.
5. What will children learn in a coding course?
Short answer: Coding, thinking, problem solving
Well, the obvious answer is that they will learn how to code, how to write computer programs. But learning to code goes well beyond that. Yes, students will learn how to communicate with a computer using a programming language. But just as importantly, if not more, students will learn how to translate an idea into small, clear steps; breaking down a problem and finding different ways of solving it.
6. How can I help my child if I don't know anything about coding?
Short answer: Learn with them
With many of the subjects our children learn, especially when they're young, parents can usually help to some degree. Coding tends to be an exception as very few parents have experience with coding. This does not mean that parents cannot help. In fact we have seen many parents using this opportunity to learn a bit of coding themselves, and in doing so they can help their children along the way. Coding is very rare in being a subject where parents and children (often) start off at the same level.
7. My child has no interest in coding. How can I engage and encourage him?
Short answer: Send them to us (!)
Sorry, couldn't resist that short answer. But the truth is that all they need is to attend a session which engages them and showcases coding as an exciting, creative subject. Often students who have no interest in coding have had a bad experience and have decided that coding is either too difficult or too boring. Having coding sessions with a group of their friends is also a good way to encourage them to start.
Do you have a question we haven't answered? Send us an email or give as a call and we'll be very happy to offer our advice.
You can even join us for a demo session in which we teach some coding in Python to children and answer parents' questions.