Top programming languages, courses and games for your kids in 2021
A kid with his instructor was learning to code his app with MIT App Inventor.
In today’s tech-savvy world, it is of utmost importance for kids to master their coding skills to get future-ready! Programming is no longer something that just for the “geeks”, it becomes one of the most popular topics as there are many benefits that support a well-rounded development of your children. If your boys/girls are new to the programming world, here we have listed some of the best programming languages and courses for you! We will also introduce you to some of the most interesting coding games for your kids to try out!
Advantages of Kids Learning Coding
A kid with her instructor was learning tech via drag-and-drop with her iPad
1. Problem Solving
In our everyday lives, we encounter different challenges and situations. Developing problem solving skills for children at an early stage, can help them to face their daily challenges with more confidence, instead of running away from them. With coding, kids are taught to break larger problems into smaller and more manageable pieces for analysis. This helps youngsters to learn to tackle real-world problems using logic and computational thinking, much like how software engineers will dissect their codes one bug at a time, forming hypotheses until the issue is resolved. Computational thinking is a key skill to have in your arsenal, as it not only helps you become a better programmer, it will surely be beneficial for your studies, your career, and your life.
Kids nowadays are filled to the brim with creativity, and what better way than to combine it with their love of technology! In the coding world, youngsters are able to turn their imaginations into reality through building their own games and animations. Much like a new language, coding is a tool for children to express themselves. More importantly, coding encourages kids to experiment and challenge their assumptions, which lays a foundation for them into the future.
Moving into the digital era, programming is becoming the next normal. According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of the children entering primary school will ultimately work in a job that doesn’t exist today. As a parent, exploring your kids to coding as an early stage is preparing your children for an ever-changing future. Being an essential skill in the business setting, learning coding also helps your kids to increase their competitiveness in the future job market and future-proof them for the digital future.
Programming Languages for Kids
Two kids were learning and working on their Python coding projects.
Python is one of the fastest growing programming languages in the past five years among the globe. With tech giants like Facebook, Instagram, and leading corporates like Spotify and Netflix, Python will undoubtedly continue to climb.
“Learn serious code, in a seriously fun way” is the tagline of Swift. Created by the tech giant – Apple, Swift is a robust and intuitive programming language for IOS application building. Apple even developed a platform – Swift Playgrounds for young people to learn coding. Although Swift is not a block-based programming language like Scratch, the autocomplete service fosters the coding learning of kids by giving hints to the kids of the following few codes that they might need. Gamification is another highlight of Swift. Through a game-like environment, kids will need to solve different puzzles to level-up in which there are coding challenges hidden in the game.
When it comes to web development, HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is an essential programming language for creating and designing a website. If your boys/girls are interested in web design, HTML and CSS would definitely be useful tools for building a dynamic webpage. HTML explains how the website is structured and defines different parts of a webpage like headers, paragraphs, images, etc. While CSS is used for designing how the webpage looks, including colours and fonts. The combination of these two languages gives kids an opportunity to spark their creativity by creating a stunning website!
Finding a language which is easy for children to learn and understand? Lua is one such high-level programming language that is lightweight and designed primarily for embedded use in applications. It is also fun to learn! As “Roblox” the top hit kids gaming platform is also developed by Lua, your children can start learning Lua and implementing them into creating their own games. Kids can build their own 3D world using Lua, if a child can see the result of their coding right in front of them in a 3D world, it will keep their interest longer.
Kids Coding Games Websites
Kids Coding Games Websites
A child was playing with a kids-friendly drag-and-drop coding platform.
LightBot is a puzzle game based on coding, players program a robot using icons. Lightbot don’t teach an actual coding language, but they do introduce children to the basics programming knowledge and logic learnt from the game. It is suitable for 9+ kids, over 20 million kids have played this game and it has also been used by teachers all over the world. It also has LightbotJr, which is an easier-to-play version for younger kids (4-8).
Roblox has been in the market since 2004 and 2014 Microsoft brought it seeing its potential growth in popularity. In 2020, Roblox had 32.6 million daily active users, playing for an average of 2.6 hours per day across PCs, gaming consoles and mobile devices.
It’s popular among youngsters, as it is not only about playing games, but it’s also a content creation tool featuring goofy, Lego-looking cute characters. Youngsters can also build their own games and share in the platform or play with the millions of games which other players built. It is popular for kids who aged 9+ , teens and even adults!
The word “minecraft” explains what the game is like: to mine and to craft. Punching a dirt block and retrieving a dirt block to build with is the first verb, the mining. When you start “Minecraft“, it’s the first thing you should do. For crafting, it is how the player makes items and blocks in Minecraft.
Minecraft is more than a game but an international phenomenon. Kids can build their own incredible ‘world’ block by block using their creativity and imagination, and with the user-friendly canvas and tools provided.
Coding games are obviously fun for kids. However, can it really help kids to learn programming or coding?
We would say, coding games lowered the barrier of learning coding and it’s a good way to let your children start exploring the coding world! But they cannot help kids to learn in a structural way to learn foundational and core programming concepts, and often, the coding games bound young people from coding outside the gamesHaving an instructor to guide your girls/boys through step by step at the early stage can absolutely help your little ones to grasp the core concepts of programming in a more efficient way!
After our selection, below are some quality coding classes which are highly recommended for kids to kickstart their coding learning!
Kids Programming Classes
Kids Programming Classes
A boy was building his own mobile app with cartoon character he likes.
1. Scratch Courses
Developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), ScratchJr (for kids aged 3-5) and Scratch (for kids aged 6-8) are block-based programming tools designed for children to kick start their coding journey with simple drag-and-drop blocks. Through dragging and dropping different coding blocks, young people are able to create their own stories, games and animations such as Flappy Bird.Scratch acts as a stepping stone and a great transition tool to text-based programming languages. It allows kids to program using various syntax that best aligns with the text-based programming languages in their future curriculum.
Preface Coding provides both 1-on-1 and seasonal boot camps for kids to build fundamental programming knowledge and develop a deeper level of fluency with digital technology through coding games and animations.
2. App Inventor Courses
Apart from Scratch, App Inventor is another popular block-based programming language for young children to develop applications like utility apps and games for smartphones or tablets. What makes App Inventor so popular is that it provides intuitive and visualised blocks to remove unnecessary complexity in traditional programming, flattening the learning curve of total beginners.
Preface coding specialised in providing App Inventor Program through a theory and application-based approach to equip kids with computational skills and problem-solving skills.
3. Various Holiday Coding Boot Camps for Kids
Summer is the perfect time to keep their motivations going and put your kids in charge through learning while playing! Coding boot camps are always the best choice for short-term and intensive training where core programming skills will be taught. Children can build some tech projects in few days, ScratchJr, Scratch, App Inventors Boot Camps mentioned above are some good options. If your kids want to go for more advanced programming, Web Development and Python are also some great hit options.
Further Reading List:
“Some of the Best Online Learning Games for Kids”, New York Times
“The double-edged programming language — Lua — easy for kids to learn and also powerful enough for developing professional games!”, medium.com https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181024-the-best-age-to-learn-a-foreign-language
“Why is everyone talking about Roblox?”, Polygon.com
“Providing Children a Desire to Learn Programming from an Early Age”, South Florida Reporter
“Why is kids’ video game Roblox worth $38 billion and what do parents need to know?”, The Conversation
“Why ‘Minecraft’ is the most popular game in the world” , Business Insider
“Homepage – Descriptions” , Lightbox
“Why Should Kids Learn HTML and CSS? (And What are They Anyway?)” , Tech Age Kids
“What is the Swift programming language, and why should I learn it?” , IT Pro https://www.itpro.co.uk/development/34417/what-is-the-swift-programming-language-and-why-should-i-learn-it