Children attending an average school learn roughly the same curriculum their parents did decades ago, despite the fact that leaps in technology have opened up a whole new field of knowledge in the time between. Someday, kids may put away their English book and begin their C++ assignment in class, but until then you can give your child a head start by teaching him or her how to program. It’s more than just a useful skill; these are the top five benefits of beginning coding at an early age.
Developing Language Skills
Most programming languages are based on English but have very different rules for spelling and grammar. This makes them easier for children to pick up than a foreign language, while still bolstering their brains’ speech centers as they discover new ways to structure meaningful phrases. Bilingual children focus better and show improved performance in nearly all academic disciplines. Starting with something easy, such as BASIC, and moving on to more advanced codes mimics the gradual progression of traditional languages, including that coveted brain development.
Promoting Problem Solving
As any programmer will tell you, a rough copy of code rarely compiles successfully. In fact, even the most advanced computer expert almost always has a few mistakes to fix. They don’t throw their hands in the air and turn off the machine when this happens. Instead, a problem simply means that it is time to start digging for the solution. It may require adding a single bracket or rewriting an entire section, but a dedicated programmer continues trying new ideas until he or she gets it right. Learning how to work around seemingly insurmountable issues is something that will help a child in any pursuit.
Teaching Creation Rather Than Consumption
People use computers every day, from their phones to their GPS systems, but the majority of them only understand the devices they rely on in a superficial way. Children should not be raised to think of computers as nothing more than a window to Facebook and video games. Knowing how software works, and how to manipulate it, inspires creativity and teaches kids that they can make all of the things they love and possibly make them even better. Rather than mindlessly clicking through the next big social networking hit, your child could be the person behind its success.
Exploring Many Interests
It is easy to get locked into the idea of programming as a boring string of symbols flashing across a screen in a cubicle or darkened basement, but every digital application is a product of code. Many children love video games and dream of creating their own, but they will need a solid foundation in programming to achieve it. Similarly, artistic pursuits like 3-D modeling and animation require a basic knowledge of how to interact with a computer, and complex projects often call for large chunks of original code. Programming does not have to lead to some mindless desk job, but it can open doors in almost every industry.
Preparing for a Digital Work Environment
Finally, there is the undeniable fact that computers are not going anywhere. As they infiltrate more and more careers, those with programming experience are in high demand. Companies are currently suffering from a shortage of knowledgeable employees, and programming-based jobs earn some of the highest salaries in the nation. In terms of opportunity and stability, the computer science field is one of the best choices a young person can make. By starting their education early, you can give your children all the tools they need to enter a market with businesses already clamoring for them.
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Jeremy Long is a software developer who turned his love of computers into a successful career and has contributed to TopComputerScienceDegrees.com for others who want to do the same.