There’s No Time Like the Present
Perhaps there’s no better group to teach coding to than children (cue in Whitney Houston song about children and our future). Kids absorb information and use new technologies like they’re old hat. (Just ask any parent who’s given an iPad to a diapered child or the dad who raised his kids on the command line.)
It’s hard to imagine the amazing apps and tools they’ll develop when they’re older if we get them started learning how to tinker now. But most importantly, when you introduce your child to programming, in the process he/she’s not just learning to code, but also coding to learn, as MIT professor Mitchel Resnick writes.
For my part, I think of coding as an interest my daughter already has that I want to foster, the same as for reading or drawing. At 7-years old, she’s too young to think of it in terms of “If-then” statements, but the impetus is still the same: she wants to make a game or an animation and doesn’t even question that the tools are within her reach. The awesome apps available today engage her curiosity and teach her the fundamentals through exploration and play. In other words, the best way to learn.
Here are the apps we’ve tried and others that come highly recommended by other Lifehackers/parents. Many of them are iPad-based, simply because that touch interface is more intuitive for young kids, but there are desktop and web-based apps as well for students of all ages.