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CHILDREN

How to raise
a programmer

You can raise a computer genius, even if your child doesn't like math.
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Programming is the new ABC. As the world becomes more and more digital, IT specialists are in greater demand. Coding skills should be taught in childhood. Even if your child doesn't believe they can become a professional programmer, learning to write code will enable them to develop logic and creativity, think critically and learn the meaning of cause and effect. So how do you go about teaching it?

1

What age should
we start learning?

The founder of the children's educational platform Kodable, John Mattingly, says that the best age to teach a child a second language is from 2-7 years old, so why not start off with the language of computers? He is not alone in this assessment: the world has already begun to create products that allow us to teach the basics of coding to toddlers who are just learning to speak. For example, in 2013 three students of the school of design Hyper Island in Sweden wrote the e-book ‘My first website: Cody Coder's HTML tutorial’. In it the authors tell kids how to build a website from the age of three – step by step, brick by brick, just like building a house.

2

Is it necessary to do all this on a computer?

No, not at all. Teaching children to read and think logically is possible without using a computer. For instance, you can start off by playing board games. This will help your child learn how to set tasks and find solutions. Once your child is 5-6 years old, you can enrol them in programming courses.

3

What programming
language should
we learn first?

Schoolchildren under the age of 12 should start with simple programs, like Scratch. Designed by the MIT media laboratory, this programming language is fairly easy to work with on an intuitive level. It has a simple graphical interface. With Scratch you can make interactive animation with cats, edit videos and create games. So, in the process schoolchildren learn to think like a ‘programmer’.

Teenagers should be ready to use Python. This language is great for beginners since it has simple syntax, readable code and an active online community of developers who would be more than happy to answer any questions or help solve any problems. After mastering that, you can move on to more complex programming languages, like Java or C++.

4

Should a child
have good
math skills?

Not necessarily. Programming is not only about mathematics, it's also about being creative. Therefore, it is very important that the child is curious and interested in the outside world and wants to get to the bottom of things. So, even if your child isn't a straight ‘A’ student in algebra and geometry, they can still turn out to be an excellent programmer.

5

How long should the studies last?

It could take months or even a few years – it depends on the programming language that is studied. As a rule, children's programming courses offer different options – from one week to a whole year. Why not start with a short course, and then along the way you can decide whether it is worth enrolling in an extended course.

in the World

Countries where students have to take
basic programming courses

All around the world, programming lessons are being included more and more as a mandatory part of school curriculums. Estonia and the UK, for example, were the first European countries to introduce the basics of programming at schools. Young Britons learn this subject from the age of five, and since 2012 Estonian kindergartens have been teaching the basics of programming with the help of the ProgeTiger program. In Finland, coding elements have been added to a number of school subjects, even to art lessons. In 2020 Japan's mandatory primary school curriculum will have lessons in coding. Coding is taught in schools in Israel, China and many other countries, and in Hong Kong children are even taught the basics of robotics.

6

Once a teenager has learned
to program,
what's next?

If a child is really keen on programming, you could consider enrolling him or her in a specialized university. There is such a high demand for programmers that just having experience and a significant number of completed projects could get you a job even without a diploma. Nevertheless, higher education will build a strong theoretical background and a diploma from a prestigious university would make it easier to get a position and promotion in a large company.

In the US some of the best programs in Computer Science are available at Carnegie Mellon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford, UC Berkeley and others. In Europe, according to the Times Higher Education, the top three universities for programmers are Oxford, Cambridge and the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology).

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a programmer (3 years and up)

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