Coding is a great skill to practice, however, it’s tricky for young learners to work on their technical abilities consistently. Kids may find coding boring, but there’s a way to help shift their mindset about computer programming. In this article, we’ll discuss getting your kids excited about coding so they don’t miss out on the chance to create something incredible!
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Find out how to get your kid excited about coding
It’s simple to introduce coding to children, but keeping them engaged is challenging if we don’t use suitable approaches. Inspired by effective teaching strategies prevalent in the classroom, here are different ways to keep your student excited about coding.
1. Make Real-World Connections
“Why should I learn to code?” is a common question students may ask. Or “How will coding help me if I don’t want to be a computer programmer?” Both of these questions are excellent because the student is thinking about how they can apply their knowledge and if there’s any significance to learning the subject.
To answer the first question, you can make connections between our growing high-technology society and tech literacy. Learning how to code prepares students for occupations in the future that require coding skills.
In response to the second question, your child may want to be an artist but finds coding irrelevant to their desired profession. You can talk about the benefits of learning to code, like gaining skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. Creativity is fundamental for artists because it helps them find their art style.
By making these meaningful connections, you can increase your child’s engagement. Furthermore, assess your child’s interest and make a connection to computer programming. If your kids enjoy video games, show them videos of game developers coding their favorite game. If they want to build a robot, then show them how an engineer codes a robot.
By making real-world and meaningful connections, students will think learning about an activity or topic is worth their time. Thus, they are more likely to pay attention and stay engaged in their learning.
2. Find Appropriate Challenges
Sometimes coding can be too easy, but it can also be too hard. Both will lead to burnout. When students find the content unchallenging and too easy, they’ll disengage. To prevent or deescalate exhaustion, evaluate what areas in coding your student excels in. Are they good at loops? Challenge them to use nested loops in their coding projects. However, be careful about the challenges you give them. If students have too much challenging work, they’ll disengage because they don’t feel like they can complete the difficult task.
If your child has a challenge they don’t know how to solve, try using the scaffolding method. Scaffolding is a process teachers use in the classroom to help students learn a new skill. It builds a student’s confidence to complete a given task. You can use this technique to help your child learn to code by asking what they know already. The student’s response will help you assess what information you can give to help them complete their challenge. Then, you can work through a similar coding challenge together. Afterwards, they will take that new information and independently solve the problem.
This technique is one way to help your child work through coding problems, but perhaps your student is having trouble with the coding language in general. If that’s the case, help them find the best programming language for them.
3. Encourage Breaks
Students, especially younger ones, need time to refocus, so implementing brain breaks into their practice time can help refuel their brain power to push through their coding challenges. Plus, students are less likely to burn out and associate coding with challenges, thus leading to less excitement.
In a study conducted on schoolchildren in Poland, researchers concluded that brain breaks promoting physical activity contributed to better self-efficacy in learning. In an article on the importance of brain breaks, Youki Terada brings to light how researchers found brain breaks to help recharge a student’s cognitive energy and increase performance.
Here are some brain-break ideas you can encourage your child to try during their coding time.
4. Gamify the Learning Process
If your student enjoys video games, they’ll love the idea of turning learning into a game. It’s also a new method that increases learning engagement. A group of scientists conducted research using game-based activities in an undergraduate information technology class to assess engagement levels in the classroom. After the implementation, they found that gamification positively affected motivation and engagement. Students who were unmotivated at the beginning of the semester grew to be more participatory through gamification.
You can gamify coding to help your child become excited about each new concept they learn. One way you can do this is by playing a trivia game with your child. Do a scavenger hunt all about algorithms. If you would like more ideas, check out this article on how to gamify the classroom.
5. Change the Way Children Think About Coding
Understanding the job growth of computer science-related jobs before learning to code could be helpful for students, but it could also lead them down a different path when it comes to learning. Kids should prioritize fun in the learning process instead of prospects. In a study on achievement goal theory, researchers found that students who want to learn and understand a subject are likelier to have high and thorough engagement levels.
One way we can change the way kids think about their computer science education is by helping them understand the value of why they’re learning to code. How can they use their skills in the real world?
Another way we can help children think is by creating goals. Make goals with your child so they can develop a growth mindset. Start with small goals, like understanding loops, to big ones, like creating a project that uses nested loops.
Also, you can help your child reflect on their thinking process. Ask them what went well and didn’t and how they can fix their errors. Create self-affirmations they can say to themselves before they begin coding, like “when I come to a challenging coding problem, I can always remember coding concepts I learned before.”
Extra Tip: Invite a Friend!
Coding is terrific because it teaches kids about teamwork. You can have your child invite their friends over to collaborate on a coding project, like making a video game. By working together, they can make coding fun. It also prepares them to work like real-world computer programmers, who rely on teams to build much of today’s technology.
Learn how to get your student excited about computer science
Technology is the future, and we want the best for young learners by exposing them to this skill. However, we also want them to have fun while learning to code. We want them to keep going and find enjoyment in coding challenges! The tips discussed earlier are great ways to help this aspect of your child’s learning, especially when learning about computer science.
If your child is ready and excited to learn how to code, check out these courses that use Scratch: For younger learners in kindergarten to second grade, check out Scratch Jr; For kids in second to sixth grade, check out Scratch Ninja; For students in sixth to ninth grade, check out our advanced Scratch option Accelerated Scratch.
Up next, explore even more ways to motivate your child to code.
Written by Hunter Wilkinson, a fervent reader and learner. She got into education to share her passion for storytelling and STEAM instruction. In her free time, Hunter loves to write songs/poems, run, play video games, and hang out with her two fluffy cats.