Coding benefits for kids
When talking about the importance of learning code in school, it’s often framed as a future-proofing skill: the UK has a shortage of programmers and the demand for programming skills will undoubtedly increase in the future, so a child should learn to code and become a coder to guarantee future employment. This is a rather unhelpful view – after all, we don't teach children how to structure a narrative and express themselves creatively because we assume they will all become novelists!
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Far from being an exclusively technical and specialised discipline, coding can teach a large number of general life skills to all ages (you might consider dipping into a little Scratch, Python or HTML yourself, too!).
Coding teaches logic and creativity
As little as ten or fifteen years ago, the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance suggested that the left side of the brain side was rational, logical and spatial, and the right side was creative, emotional and instinctual.
Today we recognise this is a popular psychology myth, but people still think that coders are logical and artists are creative. This isn’t necessarily true: coders need creativity to come up with clever ways to get a computer (a machine with no brain!) to appear to "think" and artists need a high level of technical competence and spatial reasoning to operate in a highly technical and mostly digital industry.
Designers who can code a website will have an edge over those who can’t, and the same goes for game programmers who can sculpt a 3D model or write a compelling narrative.
Multi-disciplined people are often known as “unicorns” in the tech industry because they’re so rare and sought after!
Coding teaches patience and resilience
Coders generally agree that no piece of code runs perfectly with no errors the first time. Coding, like a lot of things, isn’t about inspired genius so much as perseverance. This need for emotional resilience and patience means that writing code often isn’t very enjoyable, but it’s usually worth it for the amazing things you can achieve using programming languages.
Patience and the ability to recover from mistakes are important not only for learning career and life skills, but for dealing with the bumps we encounter in life, too. Sometimes things don’t go to plan, sometimes there are accidents nobody could predict, and coding can teach you not to throw your mouse across the room and “rage-quit” at the first hurdle.
Coding teaches prediction and empathy
The really interesting thing about algorithms is that you can’t make adjustments on the fly while they’re running. You can only try to think ahead for every need a user might have, or every possible interaction that might occur, and anticipate a solution. This means that you will have to test your program with real humans and learn that every “well, that wouldn’t happen” scenario can absolutely happen (and often does!).
By learning to code and to test that code and adjust to make it work, your child will learn to appreciate that everyone thinks differently, and that is okay; you can plan for it and make sure to accommodate every user’s needs to make a brilliant app, game, robot or website.
Online and offline digital skills learning
Whatever medium your child prefers, there are opportunities for them to learning about coding and practise using their developing skills. Here are some of TheSchoolRun's favourite coding resources:
- Best coding apps for kids
- Best children's coding books
- Best coding toys
- Best coding home schooling resources
Coding doesn't have to involve screens though! Bright Little Labs believes that spy adventures with fun characters or secret-agent-themed missions are a great way to put the UK coding curriculum into new contexts and learn to think like a coder. The Agent Asha Gift Pack helps children learn digital literacy and other digital skills in a screen-free way with an Agent Asha spy adventure book, a personalised invitation to the Children’s Spy Agency, and a spy starter pack full of STEM-related activities.