As technology becomes ever more present in our daily lives, mastering basic computer programming no longer represents just a smart, forward-thinking exercise idea for progressive families, but rather a necessity for grown-ups and kids alike. In fact, programming for kids is becoming an increasingly popular topic.
Today, even kindergartners can be taught the basics of writing code. Acquiring these skills at such a young age will greatly influence their overall development, and studies have shown that coding strengthens other academic areas such as reading, spelling, and math. Software is the language of our time, and teaching kids how to use it correctly will certainly come in handy later on in life.
1. Scratch 3.0
Primarily developed for children between the ages of 8 and 16, Scratch is a free educational programming language developed by Mitch Resnick and patented by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Teaching kids to code with Scratch is easy, as the platform provides an intuitive, easy-to-use visual block interface that eliminates the frustration of typing for young learners. This is an excellent starting point for programming for kids.
Blockly is a visual block programming language for kids that is widely viewed as Google’s response to Scratch. Metaphorically speaking, it uses the same building blocks to help children master code. The only real difference lies in the following: Blockly is actually a programming language made out of several pre-existing programming languages. Blockly has a specific UI that resembles a child’s box of multi-shaped, multi-colored blocks. In addition to that, there is also a toolbox that holds the blocks, a bin, and space to actually write code.
Quite different than the first two entries on the list, Python is a powerful, text-based computer programming language that children as young as age 8 can easily use to express themselves. This specific type of code acts both as a jumping off point for mastering other languages, and a strong enough tool for serious game/web/app development and programming for kids.
As they start to play more and more with Python, your children will learn how to properly use fundamental data structures like lists, tuples, and maps. Mastering variables, loops and other functions in Python will give them a great foundation for tackling more advanced programming in the future.They’ll also overcome the complexity that comes with controlling different structures in Python. Drawing shapes and patterns with Python turtle module will help your kids overcome their first barriers with animation and game design. In no time, they’ll be able code their own apps for Mac, PC, or Linux.
4. Lua (Roblox)
Lua is a scripting language that is perfect for introducing children to text-based coding. It’s easy to learn, use, and embed into applications. Lua is a free, elegant, powerful, portable, embeddable, and beginner-friendly coding language.
5. C# (Unity)
Unity is a popular game engine that can teach kids how to code while creating professional quality games. It is a closed-source, cross-platform game dev app, in which users can play around with objects in 3D and add various elements to them. The scripts can be written in C# which is a language quite similar to Java.
C# is a powerful program and it can be used for almost anything. Of course, it has its own special strengths – one of them being Windows app development. Thanks to its .NET support, C# is now every developer’s first choice for creating Windows desktop applications.Learning how to use such a language can be more than useful outside of the game. With Unity, your children will acquire great programming skills that they can later on easily use in their future coding adventures. It’s a great starting point, from which future class-A coders can be born.