Want Your Kid to Be Good at Coding? Start Here!

by Miriam Tocino


Many people are using this time at home during the coronavirus pandemic to start learning to code or teaching their children to code.

If you’ve ever done some coding before, you already know that programming is all about coming up with solutions and that there isn't one single way to come to them.

Struggle and failure are a big part of programming.

When I learned to code, I was always afraid of failing and getting things wrong.

In this blog post, you'll hear about what helped me overcome those fears.

And, I'll also share one idea you could try to change the way your kids think about mistakes and start embracing them. 

Let's get started.

 

 

Schools are being asked to include technology literacy in their curriculum, which means that your kids will be asked to solve problems and come up with solutions around technology.

Here’s the official definition:

"Technology literacy is the ability to access, manage, to communicate with and to create around technology."

That means that children will struggle and they'll be failing.

Here’s what Deborah Carter, the founder of NewTechKids, an after school technology program based on Amsterdam, has learned about failure while teaching technology education to kids in the past years.

“Kids are really uncomfortable with failure and with uncertainty”, she says. Instead, kids like it when you tell them what to do and they feel lost if you ask them to figure things out on their own.

Now, let me tell you a story.

Some years ago, when I was learning to code, I was always afraid of failing and making mistakes. All the time. I wanted to get it right from the start!

Luckily, one thing helped me get rid of those fears.

And that was, having an example to learn from. Back then, I already lived with my boyfriend, now husband, who is also a programmer.

But, he didn't teach me any technical skills. What I learned from him was something more valuable than that.

He taught me the right programmer's mindset.

How not to be afraid of trying things out. To be brave and start typing. Designing. Prototyping. He taught me to be brave and start testing. And then, go back, change things and test again.

Every evening after dinner, we sat together, paper and pencil in hand, in front of the computer and we tried things out. We got excited when things worked and kept trying when things weren't going as expected.

“Ooops, this doesn’t work! But… What if we do this? Or this? Or THIS?!”

And like that, again, again and again, until it was late and we were both exhausted.

I also learned that getting something wrong is like the best thing that can happen to you when you're programming, because that's the only way to move forward.

computer basics for kids

Children also learn from examples.

And, hear this. When it comes to their attitudes about failure, especially they learn them from their parents. So, one thing we could start doing is watching out our own responses to mistakes and failure.

But, what if we could also start failing together?

Here’s an idea.

Some months ago, I was talking about this with one of my readers. Mathias, a father of two sons (6 and 7yo) mentioned the game Baba Is You and how it was real fun to play it with his kids. 

The game is full of logic puzzles that you need to solve by guessing and trying. After playing it for a while, you’ll see how making mistakes become more fun than just playing to get into the next phase.

Eventually, your kids will engage more with the process of guessing and understanding the rules than the winning itself.

 

 

If you’re curious, you can read here the full review of Baba Is You, a puzzle game to get your whole family guessing (and failing together!). 


Now, I’d love to hear from you:

  • What could we do to change the way that kids think about mistakes and start embracing them?
  • Or maybe a missed a cool game or toy where things can go wrong and it's real fun!

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below. 




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