Coding and Literacy

coding for youngsters

Many people are surprised that kids can learn the fundamentals of coding as young as first or second grades. These students may not have a grasp on letters or reading, so coding might seem like an unnatural addition to their academic world. Well, it shouldn't be.

The phrase "Programming is the new literacy" makes a valid point, even if it is overly dramatic. People have needed literacy throughout history in order to find meaning in their world and gain meaningful employment. In the near future, kids and adults will need computer programming to understand the world and find employment.

Fluency in either English or a coding language will ultimately provide symbiotic benefits. Both coding and literacy begin with basic concepts and progress to more complex syntax. As kids learn the rules of coding or literacy, their mastery of previously unknown language allows them to control interpersonal or computer-based expression. In literacy, students are required to memorize sounds and sight words. In coding, they memorize commands and boolean concepts.

For kids who struggle with reading, programming can be more intuitive than reading - no memorization of sight words or weird English patterns. Students as young as 3 or 4 can code with things they already know: up and down, fast and slow, green and red. So the results can be fast, and kids get quick wins to set them on the path to success. How great does it feel when a kid reads their first book by themselves? Imagine the same feeling when they click their first blocks together on the screen and see the results instantaneously!

In both languages, students at some point graduate from learning to read/code to fluency to critical thinking. With that in mind, at Coder Kids, we teach kids 5 years old and younger. Programs like Scratch Jr and Code.org provide kids with fantastic resources to start solving coding challenges as young as 3 years old. It can be for some students to grasp literacy. The expectation is the same for programming. Some students grasp it easily while others find it extremely challenging, but it is always good to start early.

Best of all, as students overcome the day to day challenges in coding, they will learn the grit and growth mindset that are so important for their academic progress. Coding can be inherently quite frustrating, so learning to overcome those challenges in a healthy way can be great for developing coping mechanisms and not seeing challenges as insurmountable.