Ever since technology has dawned upon us, human life has changed in ways beyond imagination. We all find ourselves in awe of the things that machines can do, so much so that it has been reported by BBC that ’Robots will replace up to 20 million jobs by 2030’. AI has become the new buzzword of the century and machines have become an indispensable part of our lives. Be it an android phone or a supercomputer, these tools have not only made our lives easier but rather turned human imagination into reality.
Hence, as times are changing the demand for Computer Science engineers and programmers are rising. “Yet, according to Code.org, only 11% of STEM graduates are in Computer Science thus creating a serious shortage of CS majors”. Therefore, it is only pertinent to learn programming as early as possible. To bridge this gap, various platforms have been created to teach programming to kids due to multiple reasons.
Teaching programming to kids at an early age has manifold advantages. It has been empirically established that coding improves creativity, problem solving, persistence and collaboration. In fact, having good programming skills also provides an edge in the job market.
However, if not done properly, teaching programming to younger kids can be very daunting. Younger kids have their own way of learning things, they learn fast when learning is fun. At Cuemath we believe in ‘experiential learning’- learning by doing. Therefore, the curriculum is specifically curated to include interactive child-friendly projects, real-life based problem-solving assignments and the use of block-based programming platforms such as Code.org and Scratch.
Although Code.org is primarily used in schools to teach coding, the following are some other applications that parents can refer to for teaching programming concepts to their kids.
Age group - 6 to 16
Scratch app is freely available on web iOS, developed by MIT Media Labs. It's by far the most popular coding app and has also been included in Computer Science curriculums across countries for teaching coding. Some of the key attractions of the app are the use of block-based language and the huge library of sprites and backdrops. Block-based language gives children the flexibility to use various commands by a simple drag and drop action, and henceforth arranging them in a sequential manner which helps the child understand the basic principles of coding.
The app also features a wide variety of blocks such as loops, conditionals, events, etc. Separate ‘Music’ and ‘Looks’ blocks along with several extension features have also been provided to make projects interactive. At Cuemath, we extensively use Scratch to teach programming to kids, the curriculum includes interactive projects that kids can create on Scratch through the teacher’s assistance.
The home page also has a repository of built-in project tutorials for new users, one can also share their creations with people around the world for a more collaborative learning. Younger children may want to try ScratchJr, a simplified version of Scratch designed for ages 5 to 7.
Highlights- Interactive blocks: Looks and Music, Extra extension features, Huge library of sprites and backdrops
Age group- 10 to 16
Hopscotch is a free iOS app and is one of the most popular e-learning apps amongst young kids. This app has been specifically designed to teach coding and programs by incorporating real-world concepts in the games, making learning relatable and easy to understand.
Two key attractions of the app are its similar interface to Scratch and the use of rich colours and multiple characters. The app also has a tutorial section for the first-time users to guide them on creating their own replicas of various mobile games such as Fruit Ninja. Some of the concepts that are covered would include loops and conditionals along with other basic programming fundamentals.
The app overall has been a big hit amongst parents and teachers, the only downside being its inaccessibility to the android users.
Highlights- Block based, child-friendly interface and easy to use.
Age group- 7 to 13
Tynker is yet another mobile coding app available on iOS, mainly designed for older kids, it is perhaps the most versatile coding app available. Children not only learn programming here but can also design games and applications. It also lets you program for hardware such as Legobot and drones.
Highlights- versatile, supports customizable learning, problem-based puzzles
Age group- 4 and above
Lightbot is the most suitable app for primary children as it does not involve writing heavy codes or instructions but mainly helps in logic building. No programming languages are taught in the app, however, kids get acquainted with the fundamentals of programming by learning logic, sequencing and loops.
The app features a robot that the user has to navigate in a maze to solve some puzzles. Each puzzle requires the user to light up a certain number of marked squares using as few commands as possible to direct the robot. These puzzles are divided into various levels, with the level of difficulty getting ramped up at every stage. Brief instructions are provided at every level, making it a user-friendly app. According to the Australian Council on Children and the Media, Lightbot can be used by kids aged 4 and above as kids with this age group grasp concepts quickly.
Highlights- Logic building, suited for primary kids and easy to use.
Age group- 6 and above
The app has 56 levels divided across 4 chapters, these levels have been segregated into 4 categories ranging from easy, medium to hard. Functions are taught in the end, once the child has understood sequencing and loops. The app is available for free on android.
Highlights- Customized levels, variety of characters and teaches functions
Finally, for an even enriching learning experience, you can enrol your child into an effective online coding course. Cuemath provides Live online 1:1 Coding classes and Math Classes for kids from KG to 12th grade. Cuemath’s coding curriculum is world-class providing a unique blend between the basics of programming and real-life projects using the current computer technologies helping students achieve mastery. Book a free demo and get in touch with our academic counsellor to get the best course for your child.
-By Priyanshi Verma
Priyanshi is a Liberal Arts graduate from Ashoka University who has been working in Education sector ever since the beginning of her professional career. In her opinion, every child is unique and can become the next Arybhatta, Picasso or Marie Curie if given the right guidance and education. Priyanshi calls herself a lifelong learner and tries to enrich her knowledge through books, people, cinema and experiences. For now, she keeps herself busy by making thought-provoking content for young children, however, if not working you can find her watching FRIENDS episodes on repeat.