There has never been a better time for kids to learn how to code. From creating more future job opportunities to building technical and social skills, coding has become an incredibly important skill to learn in the modern world. In fact, the overall employment in computer science fields is expected to grow 15% over the next 10 years! With all of that in mind, finding ways to motivate kids to learn coding is more important than ever. Fortunately, there are a plethora of ways to get kids excited about coding. Read on to find out how!
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How to get kids excited about coding
From using games and interactive activities to showing kids how coding is used in the real world, there are a ton of ways to get kids excited to learn to code. Here are ten ideas to help jumpstart your child’s code learning journey!
1. Use games to introduce coding
Games are a great way to make coding fun and engaging for children! By using apps which gamify the process of learning to code, children can learn important coding concepts while they play. Studies have shown that children learn best through play, so why not take advantage of coding games to get kids motivated to learn to code?
2. Show kids how coding is used in their favorite video games
By showing children how coding is used in the games, websites, and apps they love, they can see how coding is relevant to their everyday lives. This can help them to view coding as a useful and interesting skill to learn. Plus, ongoing research has consistently shown that playing certain video games improves vital skills, such as hand-eye coordination, as well as helps encourage creativity and develop problem-solving skills, which are very important qualities to have as a coder! So why not combine kids’ love of video games with learning a skill that can help them make those same games themselves?
3. Show kids other real-world examples of coding
Giving children other non-gaming real-world examples of how coding is used helps them to understand the practical applications of coding as well. By showing kids how coding can be used to create things like websites, robots, and the smart devices that they interact with every day, they can better understand why learning to program is both important and exciting! Plus, studies have shown that using real-world examples can improve children's understanding and engagement with a subject, whatever that subject might be.
4. Use block-based programming languages
Using block-based visual programming languages, such as Scratch or ScratchJr, can make coding much more accessible for young children. Visual programming languages allow kids to learn coding concepts through a visual interface rather than a text-based one, letting them focus on learning the core concepts rather than getting bogged down by the semantics of the text. This can make coding less intimidating for younger children, and there is research suggesting that visual programming languages encourage kids to tinker more with the code, lending to a more natural learning process.
5. Work on projects in a group
Collaboration and teamwork are important skills that kids can learn through the vehicle of coding. By working on coding projects together, kids can learn to communicate and problem-solve effectively, as well as stretch those social muscles! Plus, according to the National Education Association, collaborative learning has been shown to develop higher-level thinking skills in students, as well as boost their confidence and self-esteem.
6. Encourage kids to make their own projects and share them
Giving kids the opportunity to create their own coding projects allows them to use their creativity and problem-solving skills. Sharing those projects with family and friends gives them the motivation to make more! Plus, by sharing their projects with others, children can also learn about communication and presentation skills. Studies also suggest that children who engage in self-directed learning, such as creating their own coding projects, tend to develop stronger problem-solving skills, including lifelong learning and information management skills.
7. Use storytelling to make coding more engaging
Introducing storytelling into the learning process is another great way to make coding more interesting and relatable for children. Kids can use platforms like Scratch to make their own interactive stories or animations, which can make the process of learning to code a lot more fun! Storytelling also provides many psychological and educational benefits. This study suggests that storytelling helps develop the imagination to visualize spoken words, improves vocabulary, and refines communication skills.
8. Create challenges and competitions
Creating coding challenges and competitions can help to make coding more fun and engaging! Simple challenges, like creating an interactive story within a time limit, or who can create a simple game the fastest, can help motivate kids to stay focused and do their best work, especially if there’s a prize involved! Plus, research shows that the social motivation of competing against peers can challenge kids to work much more diligently on their tasks than they would otherwise on their own.
9. Use coding as a tool for self-expression
Coding can also be a powerful tool to allow kids to express themselves in creative ways. By using code to create their own art and stories, children can explore their creative side while learning coding concepts. Showing kids that coding is both a tool for creating functional programs, as well as a medium of self-expression, will have kids coming back to express themselves through code again and again! And of course, there are documented benefits to a self-expressive approach: experts point out that when children are given opportunities to express themselves through creative means, their self-esteem and overall well-being improves
10. Encourage kids to choose their own projects based on their interests
By giving kids the freedom to choose their own coding projects, they can learn how to code in a way that is tailored to their individual interests and passions, and therefore help keep them motivated to keep learning! If kids are working on projects directly related to their specific interests, they can see the direct application of the skills they are learning to something that genuinely calls to them. It also helps to foster a sense of ownership and autonomy over their learning, which can increase their motivation to learn. And this autonomy is important—research shows that giving learners more autonomy tends to lead to intrinsic motivation to give it their best!
Inspire and motivate kids to learn coding
Coding is clearly an increasingly important skill set for children to learn. If you’re looking for a way to get started, check out our 5-step guide on how to teach kids programming. Better yet, you can check out the many free live online introductory coding classes offered by Create & Learn - each led live by an expert instructor, and designed by professionals from Google, Stanford, and MIT.
Written by Create & Learn instructor Josh Abbott Salazar. Josh is a teacher, coder, audio engineer, and musician. After graduating with a Master's in Music from Belmont University in Nashville, TN, Josh turned his attention to the technology side of things, and has been working in various aspects of coding and engineering ever since. He runs a small music studio in Nashville called Tango Sound Studios, and develops video games in his spare time.