Programming for kids: when to start, what to learn


Today’s children start using computers early. They watch cartoons, look for information, chat with friends. They also do homework and homework. Therefore, they must be taught to communicate with electronics. But why exactly and when to start doing it?

In computer science classes, millennials mainly learned to type text, mastered Microsoft Windows (Basic at best) and played Super Mario. Today, computers for children are as natural as refrigerators. How to help your child get comfortable in the digital world and get the most out of its constant updates? Let’s figure it out.

3 – 5 years

The right age to introduce a child to a computer. By the age of three, children develop muscle control over fine motor skills of the hands. In other words, they can already notice the connection between keyboard and mouse controls and changes on the screen. At this age, they can even master simple programs.

5 – 7 years

Children of older preschool age are able to receive information only from their own experience, information from other people is not so significant for them and is often not considered as a source of truth. In addition, children still cannot perceive individual details, so they write and read very slowly (for example, the page of a book is an indivisible object for them). It is difficult for them to build judgments and conclusions.

If you ask a child what to sew a shirt from: paper, fabric, birch bark, polystyrene or rubber, he will choose the fabric, but he is unlikely to be able to explain why he answered that way. At 5–7 years old, a child cannot even be taught the basics of algorithmization (for example, write an algorithm for calculating the expression y u2d 6a – (x + XNUMX) or describe an algorithm for doing homework in mathematics). Therefore, it is better to start learning programming from the age of eight and not earlier.

Enroll your child in a course in early language development or mental arithmetic. An excellent solution would be to focus on soft skills and develop a creative direction: sports sections, art or music school.

8 – 9 years

At this age, the degree of egocentrism falls, the child is already ready to believe the teacher’s judgments and thus comprehend information. Syncretism (the child’s desire to take the connection of impressions for the connection of things, for example, the moon does not fall because it lies in the sky) also disappears, and it is already possible to understand how the simplest mechanisms work.

Psychologists distinguish zones of proximal and actual development – skills that are formed in joint activities with other people. What the child can do independently (for example, put on simple clothes) is already in the zone of actual development. If he still does not know how to tie his shoelaces without the prompts of an adult nearby, then this skill is still in the zone of proximal development. In the classroom, the teacher creates a zone of proximal development.

So the child develops visual-figurative and heuristic thinking (when it is possible to make discoveries), he learns to solve problems for logic in graphical and block form. To successfully master programming at this age, you need basic knowledge of school mathematics: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division by single and double digit numbers within 10.

You also need to be able to solve combinatorial problems. For example: the cat Murka gave birth to 8 kittens (6 fluffy and 5 red). How many kittens were born both fluffy and red at the same time? In addition, children need the skill of solving logical problems, such as graphic labyrinths, rebuses, compiling simple algorithms, and finding the shortest path.

10 – 11 years

In grades 4-5, in addition to performing elementary algorithms (for example, mark the following algorithm on map No. 1: leave Ozersk, get to Okeansk), the child learns the syntax rules of the programming language, and also begins to work with branching algorithms, nested loops, variables, and procedures.

To do this, you need to develop abstract-logical thinking: work with various performers, independently enter the program code and build cause-and-effect relationships when solving mathematical and logical problems. So, as a performer, we can use a computer character that can perform various actions in the virtual world: jump, run, turn, and so on.

In educational tasks, it is required, for example, that he move a box. To do this, the child needs to enter the necessary commands in the program in a certain order. This develops abstract logical thinking, the child clearly sees how his character moves, and understands when he makes a mistake when writing commands in the program.

Children themselves are drawn to technology and everything new, so it is important for parents to direct this interest in a useful direction. Programming only seems to be a complex and inaccessible area, subject only to a few. If you carefully look at the interests of the child and develop his skills correctly, he can become “that very computer genius.”

About the Developer

Sergey Shedov — founder and director of the Moscow School of Programmers.

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