Top Tips for Learning to Code at Home
In September 2014, the National Curriculum changed to include coding. All children from five years-old are now taught the subject at school.
Pupils aged five to seven will be expected to "understand what algorithms are" and "create and debug simple programs". By the age of 11, they will need to "design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems".
But often, as parents, we don’t have much knowledge of this new subject, making it difficult to help our little ones to learn at home.
The first thing to understand is that the ideas behind coding aren’t that new at all. It’s a bit like science or maths; it’s largely about learning how to overcome problems, apply solutions, and work out what went wrong. Many of the skills children need for coding don’t require a computer to practise:
Before children learn the language of coding, it is helpful for them to learn to use symbols to represent commands. Did you ever play with ‘secret codes’ when you were younger? This for example is a great way to incorporate symbols into play.
A big part of coding is logic and the art of breaking tasks down into small steps. This may be a new skill for children but it’s one that can be applied to nearly anything they do in life. Ask your child to explain their perfect day to you from getting up to going to bed. Or talk about a recent holiday, birthday or similar and get them to break it down into detailed steps.
Another way to hone this skill is to blindfold somebody and ask your child to guide them through a room, or a maze, or the garden, using only words.
To decipher a complicated computer code, children need to learn how to find patterns. Help your child to find patterns in everyday items such as the pattern on a duvet cover, or the verses in a song.
There are many toys and apps on the market that can help children from a young age to learn about coding and programming.
There is a handy website called Code Academy which offers a free, online introductory course for coding, using real programming language (please note, this has not been tested or endorsed by the Good App Guide). This could be a useful taster session for you, as well as a way to support your child’s learnin
Toys and apps to teach coding
The following toys and apps can be used to teach your child coding at home. They have all been tested by children and achieved the highest accreditation (Recommended) from the Good App Guide and Good Toy Guide.
(Ages 5 - 8)
Botley® the coding robot provides hands-on exposure to fundamental coding concepts in a fun way that helps kids learn through play. Botley is 100-percent screen free and does not require the use of a smartphone or tablet.
(Ages 6- 8)
Cosmic Coding is a fun board game designed to introduce children to coding and is compatible with Key Stage 1 of the National Curriculum. No prior coding knowledge is required and a full detailed guide is included.
(Ages 7 - 11+)
Children will develop left and right-brain skills with Artie 3000™, the coding/drawing robot.
Bits and Bytes
(Ages 7 - 11+)
Bits and Bytes is a fun new card game that teaches children the fundamentals of computer coding without using a computer or requiring any specific computer knowledge.
Cubetto is a playful wooden robot powered by the first programming language you can touch.
This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer