Every era demands – and rewards – specific skills. Once upon a time, children were taught how to milk a cow, plow a field, raise a barn, bake bread or write in cursive. Today, children are being taught to code.
Coding is so popular with today’s youth that a slew of startups are teaching the subject to kids as young as four years old. Play-i has developed interactive robots that teach children the basics of programming. Kano is a computer and coding kit designed for kids to assemble a computer from scratch and learn basic coding skills. MIT Labs and Tufts University have also jumped on the “teach kids to code” bandwagon with ScratchJr, a coding app that allows children to program their own interactive stories and games.
Last year, Code.org, a nonprofit that provides computer programming lessons to students, kicked off Hour of Code, a campaign aimed to demystify coding through hour-long computer science lessons. The tutorials have been given by influencers in the field such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, and the lessons have taught more than 31 million students about coding.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs available by 2020. Preparing kids with relevant education curriculums based on these future employment opportunities will be important to filling those positions in the future.
Held at more than 80 top colleges in the U.S., iD Tech academy and summer camp teaches students ages 7-18 how to build valuable STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. Course curriculum focuses on a variety of computer science topics, from coding and video game design to robotics and app development.
“It’s critical for kids to be immersed in important 21st century skills and engage in STEM learning at an early age,” said Karen Thurm Safran, vice president of marketing and business development for iD Tech. “These are must-have skills to be competitive in college and their future career.”
Julian Getsey, an 11-year old from Marin County, Calif., is one of many students who went to iD Tech camp last summer, “[At camp] we worked in Java and other stuff. At first it was really hard, but by the end I helped make a piece of a game that was pretty cool. I like math and computers, and I think I could work at a startup, or maybe start my own company someday.”
Teaching coding yields many benefits: not only does it expose kids to a field of work that will provide opportunities in a growing job market later in life, but it also develops critical thinking skills transferable to all areas of learning. Julian’s mom , Sahar Getsey, saw many different benefits from iD Tech, “We like the idea of exposing our kids to different ‘languages’ at a young age – Spanish, Farsi, piano, math, coding. They add different dimensions to the way children see the world, organize and process information and solve problems.”
Teaching kids to code will not only allow them to think differently about their future, but it could potentially turn them into creators of technology rather than just consumers.