Coding is a fun multi-disciplinary activity that actively engages the mind and carries a lot of huge benefits for kids. For instance, did you know it supports their creativity, logical thinking, as well as the ability to concentrate? Here is our shortlist of 10 top benefits of coding for kids, based on both our empirical experience and the available scientific findings.
Around the world, schools, educational organizations, governments, and extracurricular activity centers are incorporating coding for kids into their curricula and activity programs. Why? They are well-aware that coding carries a multitude of benefits for kids, that is the language of the future, the new lingua franca, and a skill priceless on the future job market. As the overlap of technology and our everyday lives increases, so will our interactions with technology – and so will the demand for tech-savvy employees. All the aforementioned efforts are thus consequential for the ABC’s of modern education.
But perhaps, when talking of coding, the discussion too often strays to strategic goals (better jobs) and practicality (new modus operandi). Less often do we hear of all the other abilities and skills kids can benefit from by learning to code. We’ve created a 10-point list of all those worth knowing about. Here are our 10 reasons why coding is beneficial for kids and the abilities it enhances:
1. Logical thinking – no easy task, but easier with coding
Logical thinking is no easy task. Seeing and determining the connection between cause and consequence, abstraction of the involved components, and assigning properties to individual events is something we learn for years and many struggle with it even as adults. The key component of logical thinking, however, is decomposition – breaking everything down into the smallest bits, which allows us to see how they’re related on much easier terms. Every coding assignment requires the decomposition of a task into smaller bits.
Such as, if we want a Robo Wunderkind robot to function as an alarm, what will it need to do? What do we need to program? It needs to make a noise, ideally also flash some lights, it needs to do this for a certain duration of time and at a certain volume, etc. So we need to program all these and in a sequence that makes sense. Thus, children slowly realize that even simple actions and commands involve multiple ‘clauses’ and smaller steps that need to be achieved first. This does not only apply to coding, but basically every slightly more complex task in life.
2. Creativity can be nurtured via coding
Creativity can also be summed up as the ability to come up with new solutions to unfamiliar tasks. It’s an ability that can be trained, which is something we discussed in a previous blog post, by switching between the focused and diffuse modes. Coding is the perfect activity to train this. Getting new instructions on a project requires a lot of explorative thinking, brainstorming and conceptualizing (diffuse mode). These then get tested in a rigorous effort to translate ideas into code (focused mode).
Coding furthermore also allows children to explore their own creative interests – design, visual art, auditory art, music, and more. Plus, the amazing feeling of having created something entirely new and unique is something that gets pretty addictive pretty fast, and doesn’t leave after the kids are done with their coding assignments.
3. Structural thinking – seeing the patterns
Structural thinking involves seeing a pattern in bigger objects based on the components they’re made of, and, conversely, in the ability to imagine and build something larger from smaller components. It’s a skill vital for any creative or engineering field, and coding encourages it heavily. Often, coding products or activities involve modular modeling (including Robo Wunderkind!) which means, using smaller physical pieces, such as blocks, to build a bigger object. Identifying what role each component can play and what function it can perform in the context of the bigger picture is what coding is all about, whether it is purely visual, or text-based.
4. Persistence and resilience – the keys to success
Both types of thinking can be taught through coding and both are highly practical in later life. The first, persistence, involves not giving up at the first sign of failure. Coding, to some extent, requires and encourages failure as an essential prerequisite to someday finally getting the code right. This might take minutes, but it might also take days. The trial-and-error process doesn’t allow a quick defeat, but instead motivated kids to continue and pursue a successful outcome.
Secondly, resilience (closely related to persistence) requires one to keep looking for a solution even if there doesn’t seem to be one, even if nothing seems to be working and the code simply isn’t doing what it should! Or, as we would say, debugging the dysfunctional code or construction. Coding teaches kids that there always is a solution, one just needs the patience and time to find it. And it’s more than obvious why every parent would appreciate the learning of these skills happening as fast as possible!
5. Algorithmic thinking
Another component essential to coding. Algorithms function similarly to recipes – they are an easily replicable action that is used to address and solve a particular problem. In order to be able to think algorithmically, one must be able to imagine and clearly define the individual steps required to complete a task. Firstly, this requires persistence and resilience, as we’ve already discussed above, since the designing of a cognitive algorithm (although quick and automatic) isn’t easy at first.
Secondly, it also requires the skill to sequence (being able to imagine steps in their respective order), repetition (algorithm needs to repeat itself), and conditional logic (if this, then that). All of these things can be taught through coding. For instance, at Robo Wunderkind we teach them through our newest app – Robo Blockly.
6. Math skills are made more comprehensible by coding
Math, which is one of the other benefits of coding for kids, is often a source of nightmares for many students. Too many of them also believe that if they’re bad at math, it must mean they simply lack the talent of prerequisites for it. This is a pity, since more than often, it can also just be that they were never properly taught the underlying logical principles of math and their wider applicability in the real world. As such, math seems too abstract, too unrelatable, and sometimes even boring.
While young coders definitely don’t need to be math whizz kids to start coding, they will learn the aforementioned math principles as they go, or you could also say, as they code. Coding allows children to visualize and interact with the abstract principles math is made of (such as conditioning, sequencing, equations, decomposition) instead of only seeing them on a sheet of paper as these intimidating foreign digits.
7. Writing skills and storytelling – the unexpected benefits of coding for kids
Yes, coding at a certain level requires one to write code. But have you ever wondered what code actually is? It’s a language, and what does one get when they put bits and pieces of language together in a logical, sequential fashion? A story. Coding is essentially the telling of a story through the help of real-world objects and technology that powers them. It needs to have an opening, a plot twist, and a conclusion.
Our Robo Wunderkind lessons are often structured like stories. They include adventures such as Robo goes to Toy Town, Robo Dragon saves a princess, Robo meets new friends, and many more. Not only is teaching any lesson easier for kids through stories, because stories are what makes sense to them at that stage in life, but it also enhances their abilities to form and explore stories of their own.
8. Practicing core soft skills
Some of the soft skills coding enhances include the following – communication (discussing what one intends to do with either other kids, teacher or parent; explaining a problem when it occurs, working at a common solution together and presenting one’s creation once it’s done), focus (not letting go until a gripping task is solved), organization (determining what needs to be done and all that is required for it, setting up the sequence, assigning roles, etc.), or even listening (when one’s own skills fail, input from others is required).
It’s easy to see how essential all of these skills are in everyday life and other disciplines. Plus, the easiest way to learn them is when one doesn’t realize he/she is learning them at all. All that they need is a wiser figure (such as a parent) guiding them in their first steps and offering feedback when necessary.
9. Perfecting immersion through coding
Immersion into an activity is something that happens to us when whatever it is we’re doing is just too good to let go – whether it involves reading a great book, constructing a sandcastle, or engaging in a discussion. Unfortunately, it’s a skill we’re losing partly due to technology, which is teaching us to become more easily distracted and to jump from one activity to another (like when we are scrolling through our feed or switching between apps). Ask yourself – when was the last time you were able to focus on one single activity for hours without checking your phone or looking for something else to do?
Coding (or, better put, working on a coding project) is an interactive activity that usually involves several aspects (writing code, constructing a physical object, moving between the two to see how it works, looking up new information to solve a problem) while still setting out a clear task for us to solve. In other words, it’s the perfect way to pull us back into an immersive type of thinking that makes time fly and our brains burst with new knowledge. You could also try coding together with your kids to see this for yourself!
10. Computational thinking, the essence of coding providing another benefit for kids
We’ve already discussed computational thinking at length in one of our other blog posts – so take a look at it if you’re interested in finding out more about it. But in short, computational thinking involves the designing of functional solutions based on a decomposition process and the identification of commonalities and similar patterns. It’s how computers work to solve problems, and it’s how we can work to solve them too. Coding is all about it – but so is every other unfamiliar task in life.
The benefits of coding for kids are a-plenty, and, as we’ve just established, these can also apply to you, the parents, when you help guide your kids through the world of code and programming. The fun, creativity, and interactivity would be a shame to not try out! If you are ready to introduce your kids to coding, check out Robo Wunderkind – our tools empower children to learn coding through the joy of play and inspire them to engage with technology in a creative way.