Teaching Kids to Program

I get asked a lot from different parents about teaching their kids to write computer programs.  “What is a good way to get started?” , “How did you get into it?”.  As my oldest child is now 9 I’ve been frequently asking myself the same question.  I feel it is very important that young people know how to write code.  I feel that years from now people will look back on those who couldn’t write basic computer programs the same way we look back to those who can’t write a simple letter.

Much online casino australia of my thinking has been confirmed and augmented by a Ted Talk I watched this week by Mitch Resnick.  In his talk, he affirms that just because people can code doesn’t mean we expect them to all be professional computer scientists or developers.  We don’t expect all people who learn how to write to become novelists or journalists.  Its just a basic skill that is needed in our day and age.

With his program “Scratch” that him and his team has made I think I’ve found the answer I was looking for.  I got home last night and downloaded it onto our family iMac.  It sits right in the kitchen and got my 9 year old and 6 year old started on it.  We started out with a picture of a “sprite”, or in our case, the default picture of a kitten.  We then created “controls” such as: “When I press the spacebar”.  Then underneath the control we did things like “change color” or move 10.  (the 10 is 10 pixels, but kids don’t really know that yet).  My kids would then keep pressing the space bar.  That’s when we introduced the “Forever” loop to them.  Amazing!  In just a quick 10 min, they understood loops and making things happen.

I’m hoping to do more with this and my kids.  I don’t want them to think of computer programming as dry and boring, but rather a creative medium for doing really cool things.  I am thankful for the people at MIT for making this possible.


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