Coding has become a buzzword in education in recent years, with coding classes for kids popping up seemingly everywhere, and with some provinces (BC, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick) making coding mandatory for elementary students. There’s no doubt that our kids will need significantly more digital literacy than we did—but do kids really need coding skills?
The short answer is yes—as long as we define what we actually mean by “coding”. Technology changes at a lightning-fast pace, so learning a specific coding language isn’t necessarily the key to a leg up for our kids as they head into the digital unknown over the next 10 to 20 years. What is important is that kids develop confidence in using technology, as well as a basic understanding of how the digital world works and how they can help to shape it.
Here are some reasons our kids should be learning to code from a young age:
Coding Is Actually About Digital Literacy
Even those who have called coding for kids a fad admit that digital literacy is not. Learning how to code isn’t just about prepping kids to become computer programmers—it’s about empowering them to understand how the digital world works and to be fearless when it comes to technology. When a child understands how the websites, programs, and apps they use are built, they have the confidence to tackle any tech challenge.
Good Coding Is About Problem-Solving
Some people revel in learning code for the sake of learning code, but what most of us really need is an understanding of how coding can solve problems and when it can’t. This type of coding know-how also equips students with broader problem-solving, decision-making, and data analysis skills—things that apply to many careers beyond just computer science.
Coding Could Be the New Minimum Viable Skill
Imagine a college graduate attempting to find a job today (or any time in the past decade, really) without knowing how to use email or do online research. Laughable, right? That is where we are headed with coding. According to a U.S. statistic, it’s already the case that about 50 percent of high-paying jobs (defined as those that pay more than $57,000 per year) are in occupations that require coding as a skill. It’s reasonable to assume that within the next few years, a basic understanding of how computer code works will be an expected skill, rather than a value-add one, in a majority of well-paid professions.
How and Where Can Your Child Learn To Code?
The best coding classes and camps for kids make coding relevant and fun, building on the things that interest students most, whether that’s drawing, music, sports, space…whatever they love, coding can complement it. You can find group classes that specialize in certain subjects (often limited to video game design or Lego robotics) or you can opt for private coding instruction—some even come to your home—focusing specifically on what engages your child most.
No matter what type of coding instruction you choose for your child, make sure it’s designed to teach the building blocks of digital literacy and to pique kids’ interest in technology, rather than a single programming language or software. No one knows exactly which skills kids will need in a technological future that is still being written. But it’s a good bet that having the confidence to take part in writing that future will determine their success.