Since the rise and proliferation of the internet in the late 1990s, coding has become an increasingly vital skill in the workplace. While coding may not be the most obvious choice for young learners, it is, in fact, a great subject to study, even for students as young as 5-10 years old.
Beyond the obvious benefits of providing students with a marketable skill when they’re ready to enter the workforce down the line, coding also helps develop important learning abilities. In this post, we look at how learning to code helps students develop essential skills for learning and for life.
Nurturing Problem-Solving Skills
Working with programming means constantly being challenged to resolve problems. Each new coding pathway presents a series of options, issues to overcome, and puzzles to solve. These kinds of problems nurture the development of sophisticated problem-solving abilities, including computational thinking.
Computational thinking refers to the ability to express issues in the same process as a computer might. Just as a computer would take a large, complex problem and break it down into its specific components to reveal the pattern existing underneath, so, too, can students learn to identify the underlying processes at play when faced with programming problems.
By learning to break large problems down into more manageable elements, students develop a valuable ability to handle complicated issues, not just in the classroom, but also in their lives. Coding helps instill in young learners the ability to identify problems, prioritize tasks, and successfully enact solutions. The problem-solving skills developed in a coding context also translate to solving problems in an emotional or social context. All of these are skills that help them thrive in life.
Much like learning to write, draw, or paint, learning to code provides a valuable tool for expressing creativity. Coding is, after all, its own language. Armed with the foundational knowledge of coding, students can let their imaginations run wild.
They can use coding to explore the almost unlimited ways to create new things in the digital space. From world building to developing characters, from storytelling to experimenting with new applications, coding is a realm that encourages and enhances creativity.
Creating Digital Literacy
With technology (and the internet) increasingly prevalent in every field, including education, every child needs to feel comfortable and confident interacting with the internet and other digital tools. Developing “digital literacy” means being able to interact with technology in a meaningful way.
Students with a high level of digital literacy can, for instance, research subjects on the internet, read and absorb the information they find there, and also engage in a critical examination of the sources they’ve discovered. Actively and critically engaging with online forums or open sources of information, such as Wikipedia, is a significant part of interacting with technology that will come in handy time and again for students.
By learning to code, students can actively engage with the very foundations of the platforms they’re using. They can work in a behind-the-scenes capacity and move with ease through different online portals. By understanding how something is built, such as a website, and the language used to create it, (i.e., coding), students can contribute to the continuously evolving conversation that takes place over the internet each day.
Applying Math Knowledge
One of the most successful ways to absorb new skills is to practice them by applying them to real issues. When it comes to developing math skills, coding provides students with a wide range of real-life problems on which to practice. Coding helps students develop some of the essential skills needed for mathematical knowledge including abstract reasoning, pattern recognition, and modeling with graphic charts and formulae. Since the core principles of coding are based on math, students will be engaging with algebra, binary math, and even basic statistics, calculus, and discrete mathematics. Many students who may otherwise struggle to engage with mathematical concepts will be able to use and develop their math abilities, without necessarily knowing they’re doing so.
Since coding is essentially a mathematical language, math skills are built into the process of programming. By engaging with coding, students hone valuable math skills in a fun context that encourages experimentation and allows them to figure out their way through any mistakes. Strengthening a sense of persistence and determination in the realm of coding allows students to feel more confident and patient when they approach similarly complex numerical concepts in the math classroom.
Coding For Life
The skills that students develop during their earliest years of learning to code are ones that will serve to benefit them throughout their entire lives. Things like problem-solving abilities, computational thinking, creativity, mathematical skills, and digital literacy allow students of all ages to engage with many other subjects at a deeper level.
Therefore, learning to code not only opens future job possibilities for students, but it also creates space for them to explore and enhance their skills and abilities in all underlying fields. And those are skills that will stick with them for life.
Josh Rogan is an expert in web technologies, internet age communications, and new AI developments. Since studying computer science, he has worked as a freelance IT consultant, deepening his respect for what technology can do.