How coding helps children become creative problem solvers

As the 21st century progresses, computer programming or ‘coding’ is becoming an invaluable skill.

recent study1 found that as many as 50% of all jobs in Australia will require a working knowledge of programming and other IT skills within the next 15 years. It is likely that coding ability will be one of the key differentiating skills of the future.

But what exactly is it that makes coding so essential in everyday life? What are the benefits of learning how to code?  Why should we teach it to our children?

Let’s find out!

What exactly is coding?

Before learning to create software applications, learning to code involves finding logically sound solutions to everyday problems that can be expressed as algorithms or mathematical equations. First, programmers break down a real-world problem into a series of steps (algorithm) and data structures. These then need to be expressed in a language the computer understands. C, C++, Java and Python are all programming languages, each with their own specific syntax. The choice of coding language will depend on how closely the coder needs to work with the underlying computer hardware and operating system. As a result, higher-level languages such as Python can be easier to master than lower-level languages such as C.

How does coding help children?

In essence, coding builds the capacity to analyse a situation, identify its key components, model the necessary data and processes, and create or refine a program that can solve the issue at hand. Therefore, programming processes require creative thought, structured reasoning, collaboration, and logic, all of which are employed to create elegant solutions to real-world problems.

In addition to being a highly employable skill, coding might act as a catalyst towards a child’s personal and mental growth2. The practice of coding has been linked to creative therapy techniques since it represents a safe space for individuals to explore new ideas. Moreover, it allows children to express themselves in a format other than the spoken word. Coding can help children develop their creative thinking skills and boost confidence levels, since the results of solving a problem – a working piece of software – are immediate and tangible.

The benefits of learning how to code

Boosts creativity3

Coding allows children to create new and unique applications, helping establish a platform for children to channel their creative potential. Many start learning to code by writing games or animating graphics, for example. Some of the world’s top games companies, such as Codemasters, were founded by pioneers who began coding at a young age4.

Coding attempts to engage the learner in a creative knowledge-building process5 that aims to enhance the co-creative learning process as opposed to a passive learning system. As a result, coding-related activities encourage children to employ unconventional and out-of-the-box thinking, improving their problem-solving skills.

Teaches organisational skills

The ability to organise and manage different types of information is especially crucial for children since they are still discovering how the world operates in an effort to satisfy their curiosity. Coding can help teach them how to manage multiple inflows of information and categorise them accordingly, helping them to learn, remember and succinctly present information.

Teaches collaboration skills

Any sizable coding project is usually a collaborative venture requiring several programmers and designers to work together to attack the different parts of a problem. Learning to code requires individual coders to communicate effectively with each other in order to manage and delegate tasks while working towards a common goal. The more experience children have of collaborative work, the greater their ability to become contributing members of a team. Additionally, collaboration-based projects can help children to effectively handle conflict and disagreement, and to learn how to harness the strengths and resources of each team member.

Boosts problem-solving abilities

Solving problems via writing computer programs is a hands-on process that involves making mistakes, testing your work, and correcting errors. Coding also encourages the breakdown of complex concepts and problems into manageable steps in an effort to understand the problem better. This helps children to measure progress and adjust their thinking accordingly.

Moreover, coding encourages a process of self-reflection in a safe learning environment, where children can examine the errors in the software and try to solve them independently. Once this problem-solving skill is internalised, children learn the importance of thinking on their feet.

Helps with academic achievement

Coding relies heavily on concepts from both logic and mathematics and can be an engaging way for children to learn these ideas visually and interactively. The strategies learned in coding involve presentation, reasoning skills, concentration, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity, all of which are important for academic achievement. For example, research6 within a 5th-grade mathematics class demonstrated that students’ performance in a Mathematics test improved by an average of 4 points when they completed three to four coding activities per unit.

What are you waiting for?

Coding is a core 21st-century competency that encourages both creative and logical reasoning and helps children develop problem-solving ability. Learning how to code is both an employable and enjoyable skill – enroll your kids in coding classes today!

Read more here.

References

[1] Nathan Stitt, 2016. Australian workers need to sharpen IT skills for jobs of the future. ABC News. Available at :

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-10/information-technology-skills-vital-for-future-jobs-report-says/8013958

[2] James Frew, 2019. How Learning Programming Can Help Your Mental Health. Makeuseof.  Available at :

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/learning-programming-mental-health/

[3] Flatiron School, 2019. Artist Turned Software Engineer Finds Creativity in Code. Flatiron School. Available at :

https://flatironschool.com/blog/artist-turned-software-engineer-finds-creativity-in-code

[4] Wikipedia, 2021. David Darling (entrepreneur). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Darling_(entrepreneur)

[5] Romero et al., 2017. Computational thinking development through creative programming in higher education. International Journal of Education Technology in Higher Education. Available at:

https://educationaltechnologyjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41239-017-0080-z

[6] Meehan, S., 2019. The Effects of Coding Integration on Student Engagement and Academic Achievement in a 5th Grade Mathematics Class. Master of Arts in Education Action Research Papers. Available at:

https://sophia.stkate.edu/maed/291/

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