One of my friends recently enrolled his kid (son) in a “free” coding class/session, and now his phone rings every week. On the other side of the phone, the marketing team explains how good his son is and why he should be into coding (as if my friend didn’t know his son’s abilities).
The caller continuously convinced my friend to sign up so that soon his son can publish an app in the Google store 🙂 Seriously? With a wave of coding classes popping up everywhere, parents are under constant pressure and asking themselves and in the social gathering – should I enrol my child into one of these classes?
With extensive coding experience and some teaching coding experience to middle school and high school students, I have started thinking – how do you know that your kid can pursue coding? Well, I am not going to talk about the benefits of a tech career or the future of tech because we all know or hear such things all the time.
Here are the top 4 traits or indicators to look for which can help you make a decision. Before you read further, we must remember that not only traits/personality but also timing plays an important role. Your child may not be the right candidate for coding NOW, but it may be later because people learn and evolve constantly.
Curious George loves computer and technology
If your curious little champ likes to play with smartphones, computers, and the latest technologies, it is a good indicator that he/she will enjoy creating stuff (coding). Does your child like apps? Can they tell you what aspects or how to improve the app? Is he/she able to figure out features on his/her own? Such qualities of a child indicate loudly to be a potential learner of coding. On the other hand, I don’t count games, chat, and watching videos towards “love for computer and technology”.
Logical Reasoning and Thinking
At its core, programming is fundamentally logic-based. If a child is good at Math, he/she would most likely thrive in a coding course. If you see your kid enjoy solving puzzles or playing strategy games, your kid may be the right candidate for coding. On a side note, Google and tons of other sites provide most of the solution/code, but the ability to stitch together parts requires aptitude/logical thinking.
Patience and Perseverance
As a newbie coder, you face more problems in your code than the number of lines of code you wrote. Every line may have some syntactical mistakes. Undoubtedly, it gets frustrating and makes you think to quit. In those frustrating hours, little patience goes a long way. Does your child finish the book he loves? Does she finish her project or hop from one game to another frequently? Some of these could be a potential indicator that he/she needs to develop perseverance. On the other hand, a child with exemplary patience and determination would be the right candidate for coding programs.
As said earlier, you are bound to get stuck, but Google becomes your best friend. Your ability to use the right keyword or ask the right question to your mentor/teacher, or posting a problem in a forum becomes key to resolving issues. If your child is a bit independent and patient, he/she can survive the initial days. On the contrary, if he/she runs to you or someone for help most of the time (homework, project work, etc.), it may be too early for him/her to try coding.
You can observe such behaviour when he/she is playing with friends, solving school homework, or on many other occasions. One important thing to keep in mind that many times we don’t know what we don’t know, especially when we are not from an IT/Computer background. So, it may be a good idea to explore for a few weeks.
Before you enrol, how about a few YouTube videos or a Kindle book (you can copy/paste code)? The risk of putting your child in a generic program (which is not personalized) to suit his/her style of learning is that he/she may end up disliking/hating the subject forever. I had created a promotional assessment for an engineering college in India in which the college wanted to help 12th-grade students pick the right engineering stream.
The evaluation consisted of 3 sections – personality, aptitude, and evaluation of interest and would recommend you a stream/branch based on your answers. I may create one similar assessment for middle and high schoolers. Stay tuned!!! Most of the kids I teach have one or more of these characteristics and perform exceptionally well at CodeMode. As a parent, what are your thoughts? What made you put your kid in a coding class or program such as AP Computer Science?
Being an avid learner, technology leader, entrepreneur, mentor and educator, I enjoy teaching young brains. As a non-programmer by education, I consider myself an accidental programmer who just can’t be more thankful for it. I enjoy technology and am wow-ed by the potential of technology use for the betterment of human lives.