What is coding and why should you care?
First, for those who stumbled on this article by accident. “Coding” is a common slang word used in technology circles. it refers to computer programming and software development. In other words, coding is the language you need to learn to understand and talk with computers. I find that the word ”coding” makes the subject feel less threatening and approachable specially when talking with children.
Before we start, keep in mind that the purpose here is not to become a software developer, but to use coding as a basic foundation for your child’s development. Learning these skills will bring a massive amount of benefits to your child in every aspect of their lives. Furthermore, in the coming years, it will be absolutely crucial for everybody to know how to talk to computers. At least on the basic level.
Why am I so passionate about this?
This subject is extremely personal for me. I wrote my first program when I was only 8 years old and this completely transformed my life. This transformation has given me a huge advantage in the way I am able to think and perform. The benefits of learning coding have been crucial to my success in school, career, business, and personal life. Curious? Check out my full story here.
Now I have a 3-year old daughter and I can’t wait to teach her coding! I want her to receive the same massive benefits I did and be in charge of her own destiny in this coming new era.
Starting this journey motivated me to create this blog and Youtube channel Bam Bam Labs to share our progress and inspire other parents to teach their children to code early as well.
And now without further ado, here are the 9 most important reasons you must start teaching your child to code today! Please don’t wait, every day waited is a day of lost opportunities for your child. Remember, your job is to inspire, guide and take them to the door they are the ones that need to step through it with their curiosity. Starting is half the win!
- 1. Let them become architects of the future
- 2. Understand the world around them
- 3. Supercharge their brain
- 4. Make them a creator, not just a consumer
- 5. Teach them not to give up
- 6. Guarantee their financial success
- 7. Give them independent learning skills
- 8. Accelerate their cognitive development
- 9. Make learning fun for them
- Can children actually learn to code?
- What is the first step?
- Don’t need to become a software developer
1. Let them become architects of the future
Little Designer and Architect
Take a look around, everything you see now will be completely transformed in just a few decades. During the prime of your kid’s life. Cities, roads, shops, farms, factories and even the fridge in your kitchen will soon be connected with one another. They will all be part of a massive smart grid that will be the fabric of our reality and tie everything seamlessly with our lives. It will happen whether we like it or not because it is motivated by very clear economic benefits. The truth is that digital automation is much cheaper and more reliable than human labor.
Teaching your child the language of the digital world is no longer optional hobby for few. In this day and era it’s a responsible thing to do!
With the way things are going, learning to code makes your child literally the architect of their own future. It gives them the ability to make better choices and protect themselves against the dangers of this new paradigm.
Literacy of 21st Century
The ability to read and write created a huge socio-economic gap in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was not just because of the cultural agreement or social status. No, no. It was really because it determined one’s ability to learn independently and through that drastically improved their quality of life. This is not much different from what’s happening now with the digitalization of our world.
The rise of Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Robotics makes computer programming without a doubt the most crucial skill in the 21st century!
There will be an even bigger gap between people who have the ability to control the machines and the ones who can not. The digitally illiterate people will be left to the sidelines earning a universal basic income. The world digitalization will have powers of magnitude bigger impact than most of us dear to imagine.
The competitive requirement for the future
Not only are the robots and automation turning most of today’s jobs obsolete in just a few decades. The demand for people who are able to understand, maintain and build this all-encompassing digital infrastructure will grow exponentially.
Look at what’s happening in supermarkets all over the world right now! More than 80% of the cashiers have already been replaced with self-service checkouts. You can now use a wireless handheld scanner that allows you to check in your purchase as you walk around the store in real-time. Do you think they will finish there?
As the next step, it will not take long until all other retail jobs like shelving products, cleaning floors and security will be done by robots. You will see them buzzing around the shop floor in a decade and there will only be a single person running the entire 3000 m2 supermarket. Who is this person going to be? For sure, they need to understand machines and their main function will be to monitor that they are doing their job. No matter what industry you are in. The need to understand the essentials of how the world around you works will be a deal-breaking requirement.
Did you know that self-driving cars are just 5-10 years away from being mass-market ready? This will take care of the logistics jobs, tourism, and many other high employment industries. Same goes for the entire service industry as we see capable service bots already everywhere. The truth is that with the rise of AI and robotics there are not so many tasks left for humans. The only function that will be in demand for the long term will be designing, building and maintaining such systems.
Teach them to see the big picture and dive into the details
People are generally strong either in high-level abstract thinking or ironing out the practical details, rarely both. Coding is an exceptional discipline that trains you to pay attention to both. This multi-dimensional practice stretches your abilities to the limit of human potential.
Just like being an architect, a successful software development project requires you to have a high-level vision and to carry out detailed planning. Furthermore, you have to decide every minute detail while writing your code while never losing sight of the big picture that all your decisions must be aligned with.
2. Understand the world around them
Talking with computers and robots
Can you imagine living in Zhangjiakou China, not speaking a single word of Mandarin? From personal experience, I can tell you it is not fun! You will feel helpless like a Chihuahua in the Amazon jungle or a blind person on a golf course. Isolated into your own little bubble and have no clue whether you won a lottery or your life is in danger. This is what the world will be like for people who do not speak the language of computers in the future. You wouldn’t want this for your child, would you?
Our future world will be run by AI and robots who do its bidding. Hopefully, they do it within the parameters, we have designed them to 🙂 Either way, learning programming is an essential skill for understanding how computers, software, robots and the rest of our infrastructure work. This skill allows your child to remove the blindfold. They will be able to navigate this world with an ability to configure it to their personal needs and liking.
Staying safe from hackers and cybercriminals
Our life depends on the computers already today as our wealth and assets are being digitalized. This trend protects the ones who know their way around this world but also gives a strong incentive for bad people to use our ignorance for their advantage. They will spend all their money, effort and cunning for trying to take our colorful marbles away from us. In other words, this will only get worse as the technologies develop and the criminal’s incentives will grow. For criminals, there are huge new opportunities coming with the introduction of AI and Quantum computing.
While there is a strong push towards a global cashless society the educational gap is bigger than ever. Thousands of people are victims of ransomware and phishing attacks every single day. This is a huge risk for any future earthling! No virus protection software can protect your child against their own ignorance. Having an essential understanding of software and networking security is the only way to stay safe.
3. Supercharge their brain
Coding is like chess on steroids
Chess is a really good way to develop the brain as it forces you to think several moves ahead and re-evaluate your strategy each time your opponents makes a move. Programming is just like chess, it improves your child’s ability to plan, evaluate and think several steps ahead. The difference is that there are many many more pieces to play with and several powers of magnitude more combinations even in its simplest form.
Coding is chess on steroids and it will increase your child’s IQ.
Computers don’t work as chaotic as the human brain. Writing a piece of software helps to tame the chaos as it requires structuring your thoughts and making them understandable for the simple-minded computer. Training their logical thinking and reasoning will ultimately make your child a smarter person in every sense of the word. Why wouldn’t you want that?
Simplifying and tackling big problems
Writing code will teach your child valuable problem-solving skills. Programming can be very complicated and overwhelming at first glance. The challenges it presents often feel extremely difficult or even impossible to overcome.
The trick is to stay calm and split the bigger problems into smaller ones. Then split these smaller problems into even smaller ones and so on. Until you reach problems so small that they become trivial. With programming, your child will learn to do that. This will be a strong foundation for their general problem-solving skills that they can apply everywhere throughout their life.
People today are often relying on rumors and authority rather than using their own reasoning to discern truth from fiction. This mentality does not fly with computers. Your code will keep giving you errors until you reach the objectivity and absolution and fix your bugs.
Coding will teach your child to think for themselves and not rely on external truths or maybes. This is an invaluable skill in the world where it’s becoming harder and harder to find truthful information.
Open the doors to thinking in abstract
In this physical world where most things our child learns are what they can touch it is difficult for them to understand abstraction. Programming as a purely non-physical concept is the best way to teach them thinking in the abstract. It teaches them to think about something that does not exist in the physical world. With this simple skill, they will be able to build massive mental constructions in their head.
It might sound trivial but this thing alone will have an unbelievable impact on a child’s brain and their future learning ability. Trust me, I speak from personal experience! Starting abstract thinking was the single most important benefit that helped me personally to succeed in life. Just because I learned to program at a very young age. Abstractive thinking also takes your child’s creativity to a whole new level! That’s because the input pool for their creative thinking is significantly extended. It will no longer be limited to their physical reality.
Teach cause and effect
Coding is a great way to teach your child about cause and effect as everything happens very fast in the world of computers. You write a line of code and in milliseconds you will see the result. You make a mistake and immediately you will get an error. Nothing happens without a cause and there are no effects that were not triggered by something you did in our code.
Software development teaches you to blame yourself. You might try to blame the programming language or the computer. However, very soon the truth will come out that the problem was always between the chair and the computer instead 🙂
4. Make them a creator, not just a consumer
Our children spend thousands of hours consuming social media and video games. While it offers instant gratification, it has little to no value for their development. As you know, childhood is the best time for learning as the brain is in its flexible learning mode. This short and valuable window is in most cases getting wasted on meaningless dopamine-driven entertainment.
With a little inspiration and guidance they could channel this energy into becoming the creators themselves! Teach them a programming language! Learning coding switches their interest from consuming what others have created to wanting to realize their own ideas. It will teach them to see through the trivial forms of entertainment and rather pay attention to how they are built. Once your child realizes that they have an ability to create literally anything there is no stopping them. With the right idea, they could one day be creating something that makes millions of people spend thousands of hours using 😉
Unleashing the creativity
Coding is the ultimate creative outlet for a young mind. Try giving young child an empty cardboard box instead of a toy. They will not be limited to a form factor and utility that was decided by a toy company. There are endless possibilities with a cardboard box and it makes their imagination go totally wild. The same thing happens if you combine their curious free-flowing mind with a tool of endless possibilities. In other words, it will unleash an explosion of creativity and removes any blocks in their mind about what is or is not possible. Impossible is just possible with “im” in front of it. Duh!
Yes, they could express their creativity by writing poems, painting or photography. However, there is nothing as multidimensional and allowing as much freedom of expression as coding does. Furthermore, with the ability to write computer code, they could write an app that organizes and enhances their photos! Why not build an AI-driven robot that creates masterful paintings? Their machine learning algorithm could study the most beautiful poems in the world and write the most tear-jerking poems the world has ever seen. For the record, these are not just some distant stylistic fantasies, but possible right now!
Empowered beyond their years
Being able to create something all by themselves makes a child believe in their abilities. This builds their overall confidence and makes them want to show off their achievements. This new-found confidence will not be limited to coding but will help all areas of their lives.
It has a snowball effect as every time they will show off their creations they will feel more empowered. Consequently, this makes them want to build more things and that empower them even more. You know how it goes…
The instant materialization of their ideas
Did you ever have a good idea that you desperately wanted to try out? Having the ability to code gives your child an ability to instantly prototype and materialize any idea. Create a website, app, algorithm or a robot to bring their ideas to life. Much better than just dreaming and eventually forgetting them. With every experimentation becomes an experience and with every experience more and better ideas. Without the ability to code it would be very difficult for a child to realize any of their crazy ideas. Most of them require money. Coding is for free 🙂
The infinite inspiration of what to do with their lives
Most people have no idea what to do with their lives even after graduating from high school. Inspiring your child to learn to code early might give them a life’s purpose already during elementary school. The problem-solving skill your child acquires will inspire them to start noticing problems around them in the real world. They will subconsciously start trying to solve them like puzzles. One of these little puzzles could easily be the seed for a winning business idea that becomes their lives work.
In addition, being submerged in technology communities will not only offer them an endless supply of exciting and well-paying job opportunities. It also exposes them to hundreds of success stories of tech-driven businesses that they could get inspired from.
5. Teach them not to give up
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn.
Would you get upset when trying a puzzle piece in the wrong place and finding out it doesn’t fit? Probably not, I hope 🙂 Coding always involves fixing the bugs (debugging) and is the perfect way to learn about life. It will teach your child not to feel bad for making mistakes. Even the world’s most experienced and talented programmers make mistakes when writing code. It is because of the complexity of programming and the number of moving parts involved. It is just too great for a human brain to grasp at a single go.
Coding will teach your child an important life lesson that success and failure are not polar opposites. They are actually just different stages of the same thing. Making mistakes is a normal part of every process. They will realize that failures are just small steps on their learning curve on the way towards success. This change in perception will apply to every aspect of their life. They will stop feeling down because of the failures and giving up easily. Instead, they will try to “debug” the situation and try again and again and again and again until they succeed. Like a pro.
Persistence and Patience
Programming can be very frustrating at times and this builds patience. Sometimes you have an extremely stubborn bug in your code that can take hours or even days to find. Funny enough, in most cases, it turns out to be something as trivial as a missing semicolon or a bracket. Probably because something so small is hard to notice.
This can be frustrating enough to drive an average person crazy, but not your child! Why? Because these situations normally happen quite deep in the project. It’s the time when they have already invested considerable about of time and energy on their code. Consequently, giving up at this point is no longer an option. Worry not, this is very good, for what we are trying to achieve here. Having to spend hours or even days on one little step helps to grow their patience and persistence. With this new hardened patience, it will be much easier for them to tolerate frustration in all other life situations. These may even seem trivial compared with what they have been through 🙂
6. Guarantee their financial success
Ahead of the curve
Programming is an important and extremely valuable skill already today. All this enormous development has happened just in the past 30 years. Just imagine what the next 30 years are going to be like. With the coming boom of robotics, Internet of things and AI it will become much more physical and embedded in our lives than just websites and apps on our screen. Your child has a chance to be ahead of the curve and get the best opportunities for financial success when starting now rather than trying to catch up when it’s already a matter of survival.
Raining money and jobs
It is no secret that people who can code are in short supply today. What most people don’t know is that this gap between demand and offer in software jobs is growing exponentially every year. Sadly, there is no solution in sight for how it could ever catch up with the speed the technologies are developing.
Just kidding, this is not sad at all for your child if they know how to code. High demand and low supply mean that the people working on those jobs are paid high multiples of average salaries. Furthermore, they are also treated very well trying to keep them around as long as possible. In conclusion, if you want to be sure that your child has no financial difficulties in 10-20 years, coding is definitely your best bet. But wait, there’s more…
Hard to find a job without tech know-how in the future
Programming skills will not be useful only for software development but will be required at some level in every future job. Just to be clear I am talking about the jobs that are not completely wiped out by the robots. This is evident even when looking at such prestigious “blue chip” jobs like doctors and lawyers. Even they will be rendered useless without technical know-how in just a decade. How so, you ask?
Most medical jobs will soon largely be handled by AI with its ability to analyze data and use powerful machine learning algorithms to give an accurate diagnosis. The treatments will be carried out by robots as they are just so much more precise and have no bad days. Someone will need to program and monitor these robots however, and this will require technical skills.
Immutable smart contracts stored in indestructible distributed ledgers are already a thing and it won’t take long until the first digital legal bureau will be opened. Lawyers will likely cease to exist in the form we currently have them and will either be taken over by AI or transformed into something that requires coding.
Allows to materialize business ideas with global impact
Whit this futureproof skillset they can easily get a great job anywhere but in order to reach their full potential, they have to dream bigger and be motivated by the right things.
Teach your child NOT to think about getting a job. Instead inspire them to solve the big problems of the world. Inspire them to find a way to create value for as many people as possible and turn this into a business.
It is much better to start a business with 7 billion potential customers than opening a local store. Because the latter is so dependent on the seasonal fluctuations and the local economy. Knowing how to program will give them a valuable perspective to know what’s possible to do. This will serve as a foundation for their business inspiration.
7. Give them independent learning skills
An exciting project motivates kids to learn voluntarily
Most children hate going to school. It’s mostly because it has no purpose for them. In 90% of the cases school just means forced memorizing of information. Other than a vague promise of one day graduating and getting a good job there is really no real purpose for any of it.
Programming a game, on the other hand, is a purposeful way of learning. It involves math, physics, art, planning, languages, and many other subjects. Writing their own program motivates your child to find a way to learn all the necessary skills voluntarily. This learning process is very different from what is happening in school. The connections created in the brain are much more permanent. This is because they are linked to their personal purpose. These connections are further strengthened by the practical application into the project that they really want to bring to life.
The teacher is not even necessary when your child is truly motivated to do their own project. They can use the extensive internet resources to find answers and experiment until they succeed. They will soon become confident in their own abilities of not having to rely on an authority figure. This independent self-reliance has a huge value in their life going forward.
Confidence to learn alone
Like many other benefits that learning coding provides this independent learning skill also carries over to every other area of their lives. Being able to teach themselves one thing empowers your child and makes them believe they can learn anything independently. This realization in combination with their endless cusiosily can create a chain reaction of learning a cascade of skills.
Speeds up learning curve
True learning requires making mistakes and software development allows your child to make mistakes safely and really fast! This experience will make them approach learning every other subject with similar attitude and methodology. As a result, this will shorten the learning curve significantly.
Such independent and purposeful learning style makes your child absorb new knowledge like a sponge and they are capable to learn a year worth of school subjects in just a few months. It’s all about having the real interest and practical reason behind the learning process that makes a huge difference in the speed that.
8. Accelerate their cognitive development
Learning a new language
Bi- and tri-lingual children have scientifically been measured to have a significantly faster cognitive development rate compared with children who grow up with just a single language. If you think about it, programming is actually just another language. The language of computers to be exact. Furthermore, as it is a very different kind of language. it will help to speed up to the cognitive development of your child even more!
Attention & Focus
Lots of kids these days have attention deficit disorder and having a really hard time to focus on anything. This is caused by the instant gratification and little dopamine high they get each time they see something new. These dopamine triggers are coded deep in our brains and they can’t help themselves. With the technology in our lives, it’s so easy to just click on the next video on Youtube. Programming is one of the few activities that could replace these purposeless time-killing activities. It can teach your child to focus on a single objective for extended periods. Think about it… 🙂
Programming teaches a child to plan, group and organize. There is a lot going into writing a program including having a plan on how to reach your goals. Splitting the project into smaller parts. Choosing the libraries needed. Separating the components into a logical file structure. Thinking about classes, inheritance, functions, and variables you need. This is all just before starting to code and pulling everything together. Thes skills can perfectly be applied to any project management, team leading or entrepreneurial situation. They are universally essential in every industry.
Coding teaches your child to communicate and rely on external support when needed. It gives them the power of many and the ability to work together with other people. Bigger software projects often require working together with multiple other people. This teaches them to be considerate to other people. They will have to understand their point of views and be able to handle constructive critics. Working in a team can, of course, cause conflicts between different opinions. But this is a good thing as it forces them to build negotiation skills. It gives them equally the ability to stand up for their point of view as well as make compromises.
When being stuck with a programming problem your child will have to find answers online or ask questions in forums. Either way, they need to learn to formulate clear questions. This is needed to find the right answer using google or describing the problem well enough to other people in forums. This ability is extremely valuable in every other aspect of their future lives.
Explaining complex things in simple terms
Computers are extremely simple-minded and require very specific instructions of what we want them to do. If you are not able to explain yourself with enough detail and accuracy your program will just give you an error. Game over. Such instant feedback loop gives your child the crystal clear self-expression skill. In other words, this will allow them to explain complex things to people in simple terms. They will also have the ability to define their wants and needs in thorough detail.
9. Make learning fun for them
It’s a playful and fun activity
As you can see coding can be an extremely useful activity in so many levels, but it is also a super fun thing to do! Especially if the project your child is working on is based on their own idea and they truly are passionate about it. Then it does not feel like working at all, but more like entertainment and a fun thing they are looking forward to getting back to.
Programming is a very playful activity, a bit like solving a series of puzzles that are all linked together. Many people enjoy solving crosswords or sudokus. Coding is just like this, but instead of solving meaningless puzzles you can solve real-life problems and do something useful with your time while enjoying a nice brainteaser.
Imagine being able to give your child all these 8 above-mentioned benefits and letting them have fun while doing it. This is what coding is with the right guidance and inspiration. Who wouldn’t want this for their child?
Learning without realizing it
Coding allows your kid to learn without realizing they are learning as the learning comes in a form of curiosity and purposeful desire to figure something out. All the skills and concepts they learn during the process are just side-effects that happen naturally. Because of the motivation behind those activities, your child will perceive them as positive steps needed to achieve their own goals, rather than boring and tiresome chores.
Can children actually learn to code?
Short answer: it’s easier to do when you are young.
Children are playful and most of them start programming from their wish to play with computers, make them do funny things or build a game. Given the perfect learning state of their brain and need to quince their endless curiosity makes early childhood the perfect time to introduce them to coding. Inspire them how they can have fun with computers, robots and what they can achieve with this superpower in the future. Let them get curious and have fun together!
What is the first step?
You have to start simple and don’t jump into written coding immediately. It is possible and recommended to teach your child coding concepts even before they can read and write. That might very well be the motivator that makes them want to learn to read. Don’t look at it as a short term project but as an integral part of your lifestyle.
Get them excited with making something of their own. Whether it be a game, app or robot, show them that they are able to create and design something exactly according to their own wants and imagination.
Teach them about how the future is going to look like with all the robots and technology everywhere and what kind of power they will hold if they learn the computer’s language.
You should also look into block/scratch coding games that are a simplified way of coding and specifically designed for young children. There are even some fun offline games you can play with your child to introduce basic coding concepts like loops, statements, conditionals and so on. Both of these activities should be done on a daily basis and even before they can read as a part of their daily educational block.
Don’t need to become a software developer
I have personally worked as Marketing Director, Project Manager, Product Development Director, CEO and build several successful businesses. All thanks to the advantages of learning to code early! You can read more about my personal journey here.
Whether your child will become a professional software developer or not coding will provide them with a ridiculous amount of benefits. It would just be totally irresponsible for you to keep these from them. In the coming decades, it will be absolutely imperative for everyone living in this digital world. There is really no way around it for your child whether YOU like it or not. Be ahead of the curve and join us on our journey for teaching your child to code!