Are you wondering whether Python or Scratch is the better programming language for your child to learn? We’ve got you covered. In short, if your student is curious about coding, has never coded before, and wants to make simple games and stories, Scratch is the way to go.
If your student is serious about pursuing coding - possibly even as a profession - and wants to work on all sorts of websites, manipulate data, and more, and has some previous coding experience, then Python would be the best choice.
However even if Python is the better language to learn, starting with Scratch can be beneficial to help your child master core coding concepts in a fun way, especially if they are younger than 10 years old. Let’s jump into the details regarding why!
Is Python or Scratch the Best Language for Kids to Learn to Code?
Let’s take a deep dive into what makes each language unique and a good first coding language to learn. First up, Scratch.
Scratch coding language features: What parents need to know
Scratch coding was specifically designed by the MIT Media Lab for kids and beginners to learn to code, and is recommended for children 8 years old and up. It’s a visual programming language that makes it easy and enjoyable for kids to learn to code. Here are a few of its helpful features:
- Drag-and-drop interface: Scratch uses a block coding interface, which means that kids can create programs by dragging and dropping blocks of code rather than typing out lines of text. This can make learning to code more approachable and accessible for kids who sometimes struggle with typos.
- Visual representation of code: In Scratch, code is represented visually, which means that kids can see the results of their code as they create it. This can make learning to code more engaging and interactive for kids.
- Can create a wide range of projects: Scratch has a wide range of projects that kids can create, including games, animations, and interactive stories. Seeing their code come to life in this way can be very rewarding, and provides a nice feedback loop.
Watch a fun tutorial of how to make snowflakes in Scratch to see how coding happens, and get an idea of what your child can create:
Python coding language features: What parents need to know
Now that you know a little bit about Scratch. Here’s a quick introduction to Python. Python is a popular programming language that is widely used in a variety of applications, including web development, data analysis, and scientific computing. It is generally recommended that kids be at least 10-12 years old before they start learning Python, as this is around the age when they will have the maturity and attention span needed to tackle the more complex concepts and challenges that Python presents. There are a number of reasons why Python is a good language for kids to learn to code, including:
- Simplicity: Python is known for its simplicity and ease of use. It has clean, readable syntax and a large standard library, which means that kids can get started with coding quickly and easily.
- Versatility: Python is a versatile language that can be used for a wide range of applications. This means that kids who learn Python can apply their skills to a variety of different projects and tasks.
- Community: Python has a large and active community of users and developers, which means that there is a wealth of resources and support available for kids who are learning to code with Python. (Keep in mind many involved in this community are professional developers and adults though!)
- Job market demand: Python is in high demand in the job market, particularly in fields such as data science, machine learning, and web development. Learning Python can give kids a valuable skill that is in demand in the job market.
Watch a fun tutorial of how to make a chatbot in Python to see how coding happens, and get an idea of what your child can create:
Consider Scratch and Python's similarities
Both Scratch and Python are widely used in educational settings, and both are popular choices for helping kids learn to code. Here’s why:
- Both are general-purpose programming languages: Both Scratch and Python are general-purpose programming languages, which means that they can be used to create a wide range of different types of programs and projects.
- Both have user-friendly syntax: Both Scratch and Python are known for having user-friendly syntax, which means that they are easy to read and understand. In both languages, code is written (or constructed in the case of Scratch) in a way that is similar to English, which can make it easier for beginners to learn.
- Both have large communities of users and developers: Both Scratch and Python have large and active communities of users and developers, which means that there is a wealth of resources and support available for those who are learning to code with these languages.
The key differences between Scratch and Python to consider
Python is more of a full-fledged programming language used in the real world. Here are a few other key differences:
- Purpose: Scratch is a visual programming language that is specifically designed for kids and beginners to learn to code, while Python is a general-purpose programming language that is used for a wide range of applications, including web development, data analysis, and scientific computing.
- Syntax: Scratch uses a drag-and-drop interface, which means that code is created by dragging and dropping blocks of code, while Python uses a traditional text-based syntax, which means that code is written using lines of text.
- Visual representation of code: In Scratch, code is represented visually, which means that kids can see the results of their code as they create it. In Python, code is represented using text, which means that kids need to run the code in order to see the results.
- Learning curve: Python has a steeper learning curve compared to Scratch, as it’s just a bit more complex and capable.
So Which is Better for Kids to Learn to Code: Python or Scratch?
Both languages are great for students to learn. And there are plenty of online resources kids can get started with right away, from free tutorials, to YouTube videos, to live instruction from experts. We recommend joining our live online expert-led classes, designed by professionals from Google, Stanford, and MIT. In this collaborative and engaging setting, kids get the instruction and encouragement they need to succeed!