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  • No Computer Required: 7 Ways to Teach Your Child To Code

    Coding sounds intimidating, but easy games and home activities can help familiarize your child with the world of computer programming.
    by Kate Borbon .
No Computer Required: 7 Ways to Teach Your Child To Code
PHOTO BY iStock
  • These days, young kids are exposed to activities that may not necessarily be considered appropriate for their age and skill set. One of these is computer programming, also known as coding, which involves designing programs for computers to execute. You may not think that your little one is quite ready to learn how to create codes, but did you know that he can benefit from it, and that he can start learning it right in your own home?

    Why kids should be introduced to coding

    Coding undoubtedly sounds like an intimidating concept to kids, but they can actually learn many things from it — particularly, it can help develop values and skills that are not only required in coding, but may also come in handy in school and in the workplace, too.

    According to Teach Your Kids Code, coding teaches children, even those in the preschool stage, how to solve problems efficiently, as well as values like determination, persistence, and resilience. It also sharpens kids’ skills in logical thinking and following detailed instructions.

    All of these not only help build your child’s character, but can even benefit him later on in life, since these are abilities necessary when they start working.

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    How to introduce kids to coding without a computer

    Yes, it might seem ironic, since coding generally involves computers. But even simple games and activities you may already be doing at home can help introduce kids to the skills that coding requires, as long as they promote logical thinking and problem solving. These activities include playing with blocks and puzzles, following a recipe, and creating binary-code jewelry. Sounds fun, right?

    1. Have a dance party

    Your child would surely want to rock out and move to upbeat music to dance the day away! Before blasting your child’s favorite song, create a sequence of dance moves for him to follow. Start by coming up with simple moves like clap, stomp, and jump, then put them together into sequences that your child can follow. Offspring shares an example from the book Helping Kids with Coding for Dummies:

    • Clap, clap, clap (repeat 2 times)
    • Stomp, stomp, clap (repeat 3 times)
    • Wiggle, jump, squat, jump
    • Clap

    Once your child has mastered the code, you can then give him his turn in putting together a dance move sequence that you both can follow.

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    2. Create some beaded jewelry

    If you’re familiar with the binary code, you will know that it is a character encoding standard used for electronic communication, which mainly involves the numbers 1 and 0. Each letter in the alphabet has its own binary code. It may sound confusing or even intimidating for kids, but there’s a fun way to learn it hands-on — by making beaded jewelry!

    First, get some beads in at least two different colors. Assign one color to 1, another color to 0, and other colors for other characters, like spaces. Get some string, then spell out your name or initials using the beads, according to the binary code assigned to each character. For example, if your child’s initials are AB, the code will be 01000001010000010. Through this activity, you can create some interesting bracelets, necklaces, or even keychains!

    3. Make sandwiches

    Daily activities like making sandwiches can teach kids values that are useful in coding, such as being able to follow a sequence that will produce the same product afterward no matter how many times you repeat it. Make it a fun little game: Write out the entire step-by-step process of how to make a sandwich, prepare separate sandwiches by following that recipe, then see if you get the same kind of sandwich at the end.

    4. Assemble a puzzle

    Putting together a puzzle helps develop a child’s problem-solving ability, which is another skill that is very useful in coding. Let him see the puzzle as a whole first, then break it up into several little pieces, then encourage him to put them back together. This can be a fun bonding opportunity between you and your child as well!

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    5. Craft a story

    Creating stories are not just fun — they are also a way to hone a child’s skills in sequencing and logical thinking, because he needs to figure out how to make sure that the different events line up coherently. Break up a story into different separate scenes, mix them up, then let your child find out how to put the story together, much like how you would play with a puzzle.

    6. Play with blocks

    Blocks are among those toys that kids of all ages can benefit from, because creating different structures out of blocks builds values like patience, determination, logical thinking, and persistence. For instance, it requires a child to figure out how to make sure that his creation stands stable and well-balanced.

    7. Figure out a maze

    A maze is a fun, educational game to play especially if you have more than one child. Create a simple maze using different objects in your home, put a blindfold on one child, then assign your other child to be the “programmer.” The blindfolded child (the “computer”) will be the one going into the maze, while the programmer has to give the computer instructions on where to go so he reaches the end of the maze. This is a great way to teach your children the value of resilience!

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