Many parents wonder what the best age for their child is to start learning coding. Some have concerns over too much screen time, while others don't want to miss the opportunity to learn during their child's peak brain plasticity (its ability to change and adapt). So today we'll take a look at some factors to consider to help you make the right decision for your child.

The Best Age for Children to Start Coding

Research has shown that the brain is more receptive to learning during childhood and adolescence, and that the brain's plasticity is greatest during this time. This may make it easier for younger learners to learn new skills, including coding.

However experts now also believe that under the correct circumstances, practicing a new skill can change hundreds of millions, if not billions, of connections between nerve cells in the brain even into adulthood. So it's never too late!

In general, the earlier, the better to learn programming - similarly to the advice recommended for learning another speaking language. Here's why:

  1. Children may be more receptive to learning new things and may find it easier to pick up new concepts.
  2. Children will learn valuable skills including problem solving and creativity.
  3. Early exposure to coding can help foster an interest in technology and computer science, which can lead to a fulfilling career path.
  4. Coding skills are becoming increasingly valuable in today's digital age, and learning to code at a young age can help prepare kids for general digital literacy.

However, it's important to note that age is not the only factor that determines a child's ability to learn to code. Factors such as prior knowledge, motivation, and access to resources can also play a role in how easily someone is able to learn to code. Ultimately, the most important consideration is your child's dedication and determination to learn and improve their skills.

The Best Age for Your Child to Start Learn to Coding: Loose Guidelines

Here are some considerations for when to begin kids coding. It is important to keep in mind that every child is different and may be ready to learn different things at different ages. The key is to individualize your student's learning experience to meet their needs and abilities.

Chart about what programming language a child should learn based on their age

Starting at age five: By about the age of five, a child is likely to have the motor skills and understanding to begin to interact with simple toys and apps that introduce the very basics of coding. Kids can begin learning fundamental programming concepts, and start using tools such as ScratchJr. Although they may not be able to understand all of the intricacies of programming languages, at this age, children are typically able to understand the basic principles of cause and effect. As a result, they can begin to learn how to give simple commands to a computer.

Starting at age eight: By around age eight, students are ready to learn intermediate entry-level coding concepts, and to start using more intermediate block coding tools such as Scratch and Thunkable. Children are usually able to understand the principles of loops, variables, and basic data types. Children at this age also start to develop the problem solving skills necessary to understand the concepts of debugging and testing, and may be able to troubleshoot simple errors in their code.

Starting at age ten: At around the age of ten, student's typing skills are often good enough for them to start learning text-based languages such as Python, and they're typically able to understand more advanced coding concepts. At this age, children are usually able to understand concepts such as functions, arrays, and object-oriented programming, and may be able to use these concepts to write more complex programs. Children at this age (and older) may also be able to start learning about web development and may be able to create simple web pages using HTML and CSS.

What age is too young to start to learn to code?

We recommend kids not begin learning coding until age 5. But that doesn't mean your child can't start tinkering with technology before then. Your child might start playing with your phone at 3 years old, and maybe even become a YouTube-watching expert or mobile app playing wiz at age 4.

The Best Age for Your Child to Start Learning Specific Programming Languages

Let's take a look at when experts say it's best to begin learning programming languages. Learn more about Python vs Scratch here.

What age is best to start Scratch coding?

MIT Media Lab experts designed Scratch to be used by children ages 8-16. Scratch provides a number of fun getting started ideas on its website. To learn from an award-winning comprehensive curriculum and get answers to questions, join a live online class for kids led by an expert:

What age is best to start Python coding?

Python programming is best to begin around age ten to eleven. If you've never programmed before, the tutorials here on Python are recommended for you; they don't assume that you have previous experience. Check out the section of resources for young learners.

Your student can also join an engaging live online class led by an expert, designed by professionals from Google, Stanford, and MIT:

Decide the best age for your child to begin learning coding

Once you've picked an age for your child to begin, it's time to find the best ways to help them learn. Up next, learn more about teaching kids to write code.