So, your kid is tech crazy and they’ve expressed an interest in learning how to code. Maybe they want to create their own video games or express themselves through an online blog. Either way, children who learn to code at a young age will benefit in many ways. Nonetheless, learning a programming language can be time-consuming and complicated; there are certain programming languages that will be better for children and absolute beginners.
A programming language us a language designed to instruct a computer or computer programme’s behaviour. These languages can be used to create video games, websites, and practical computer software such as word processors or anti-malware software. While many programming languages are similar, they differ from each other in fundamental ways. In short, learning to use a specific programming language is the same as learning to speak a new language; each has its own rules and features that are best understood by other speakers.
Beginners don’t really need to delve into the details of each type of programming language; if your child wants to learn how to code, however, it is important for you to know that most of the beginner friendly languages are object-oriented.
If you sign your children up for junior coding classes you won’t have to decide on a programming language at all; the classes will be based on a specific language. If you want to learn to code with your children as a personal project, however, these three coding languages are some of the most child-friendly:
If we were to highlight a programming language that is really geared towards children it would have to be Scratch. While there are other programming languages which are deliberately made easy for children to learn, Scratch also has a highly colourful and engaging look which is specifically designed to make it fun for children to interact with. As well as an interactive approach to learning, Scratch offers block-based programming and has drag and drop features which are specifically designed to be accessible for young children.
Scratch lets kids see the fruits of their labour in order to maintain interest. This is the best programming language for children aged 5 to 11 who need that sense of achievement in order to push through. As they gain knowledge and have more complex ideas, your child will need to move to a new programming language but Scratch will introduce them to the basic concepts in a way that is beneficial and entertaining.
Did you know?Scratch has an offline ‘desktop editor’ which is available for Windows 10 and MacOS 10.13.
Python has more practical applications than Scratch and was used in the creation of many of our favourite social media sites. For example, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify were all created with Python. While Python is more complex to learn than Scratch it is still user-friendly and should be manageable for children.
Python is broadly considered to be one of the best languages for beginners in a broad sense. However it may be too complex for children under the age of 9 years old. For this reason, Python may be a good intermediate coding language for your child to move onto after using Scratch at a younger age, or as a new language for young teens who want to begin their coding journey.
Did you know?Python was created in 1989 as a hobby project by Guido van Rossum to keep him entertained over Christmas.
Java is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world today, so it’s highly recommended that anyone with an interest in coding at least learn its basics. In fact, there is a high chance that your children interact with Java programmes and code on a day to day basis. This especially the case if they play games like Minecraft; Java can be used to create fun mods for these games.
Java is also one of the older programming languages, having been around for twenty years, which means that there are plenty of resources available. The downside is that Java is more complex than Python and far more difficult to learn than Scratch. As such, it is unlikely to be good for children under the age of 11 unless they already have good foundational knowledge. Older children and teens will find Java useful, however, as gaining a good understanding of Java will make it easier to learn subsequent programming languages in the future.
Did you know?Java was originally called Oak, but the name was changed when it became apparent there was already a tech company registered under ‘Oak’.
As you can see there are a number of different programming languages that can be accessible for children. When choosing a programming language for your children to learn you should consider:
If you have young children who just want to get involved in something fun, prioritize their entertainment. If your child has specific goals, for example a desire to create or modify existing games, you should try to prioritize the programming languages that will allow them to meet their goals!