If You Read This, Then…

School systems encourage students to learn foreign languages to help benefit them and society later in the student’s life. While these are still very important to the child and to our society, there is another way we can help children without ever knowing how to actually speak a foreign language ourselves.

Coding is writing instructions in a language used by computers. Computers think differently than humans. Coders then must learn to think differently too. However, that change is not that difficult to understand on a fundamental level. With a few simple changes, you can help your child begin to think differently too. This will help them later if they decide to continue to learn coding or even with everyday problems.  

The easiest change is helping your children to think using algorithms. Algorithms are the instructions used to help computers understand. The most common of these instructions are If/Then statements. If I do this, then this will happen. This type of thinking also helps children learn critical thinking and reasoning skills.

Another way of teaching them algorithmic thinking is by having them write out their schedule for part of the day. For example:  the alarm goes off. If I am still sleepy, then hit snooze. If I am awake, then turn it off and get up. You can also have them solve a maze using If/Then statements. Walk forward. If you hit a wall, then turn right. If you cannot turn right, then turn left.

Once they have the basics down you can show them websites like scratch.mit.edu or code.org. Both are free sites that help teach the basics of coding and programming. Children can create basic programs and hone their skills. Once they get the hang of it, they can develop more complex programs like games. Both sites also allow sharing, so children can share their creations and help other kids learn too.

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