Thinking Computationally is a Life Skill that Should Be Instilled in Kids from a Young Age.

By Aishath Nashaya Imad, Marketing Intern, Lava Protocols

 

In the 70’s, it was the big funky hair and the punk music that caught people’s attention and in the 80’s, it was flashy bomber jackets. As we entered the 21st century, software and applications took over and bridged our imagination and reality. All of this would not be possible without coding.  

We all know and believe that coding is the next universal language. I mean, without coding, your Facebook account, company’s CRM and ERP systems, and the GPS system you use daily, all would not be a reality.

The Business Dictionary defines coding as “converting a message or text from one symbolic into another, usually in an encoded or unreadable form”. In simple English, coding is a language that consists of various combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols, which work together to operate and function the digital applications and software that we use every day

Many fear that not being able to code in a few years might be equivalent to being illiterate now. This means we need to inculcate the knowledge of coding into the young ones to meet the demands of the continuously evolving world.  

 

Why is Coding Important?

Undoubtedly, the majority of the electronic equipment we surround ourselves with involve an immense amount of coding for it to be able to function the way we desire it to. However, only a small percentage of us who use these fancy equipment actually know how to code or have a basic understanding of the mechanics behind it.

In a phone interview with AFP (an international news agency), Mozilla Foundation executive director Mark Surman, said, “Digital literacy is as important as reading, writing, and math in modern society.” He meant that everyone in this modern society needs to understand how the digitalized world operates.

For instance, how many of you have ridden an elevator recently? Modern elevators contain a mini computer that senses if someone or something is blocking the door and takes you to the correct floor when the particular button is pressed. Coding is required to ensure that the lift knows whether to go up or down. For example, it needs to know whether to go up to the eighth floor first from its current position on the fifth floor, before going to the first floor. If coding is not associated with modern elevators, it wouldn’t have replaced elevator attendants. This is just one small example of how much we rely on coding for our day to day tasks.

 

Age for Coding

Christina Farr from Venturebeat wrote in an article that children under the age of seven can comprehend foreign languages. Doesn’t that mean they can easily pick up computer language?

Kodable co-founder Jon Mattingly also found out that the best age for a child to learn a second language is between the ages of two and seven. In an interview with Venturebeat, he said, “Childhood and early adolescence are the critical age ranges for children to learn anything, including programming because their brains are still developing and learning how to learn.”

 

Learning to Code in Malaysia

According to The Star, coding is now an essential part of the Malaysian academic curriculum and is now already being taught to Year 6 students through the Module on Programming which comes under the Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) subject.

In the ICT module, students learn to create algorithms and develop programs. How cool is that? Basically, students are taught how to use their computational thinking and logic when it comes to solving problems assigned to them via programming applications like Scratch.

What’s even more exciting is that in the year 2020, students of year 4,5 and 6 will get to learn to code under Design and Technology subject.

Recommended Reading: All You Need To Know About Machine Learning

 

Why Introduce Coding at a Young Age?

Learning to code at a young age helps children become more independent in making their own choices. When kids learn to code, they learn to analyze different situations and as a result, they develop their critical thinking skills, enhance their creativity, and boost their employability for the future! Here’s how.

1. Develop critical thinking

According to Matthew Lynch in Tech Edvocate, coding creates fluidity in kid’s thinking. Kids can recall stories in order because when they learn to code, they learn to form code sequences.

Coding also requires a lot of patience to tackle complex problems. As a result, it teaches children to discover their own mistakes, understand and analyze why and how it went wrong, and find a solution by themselves. This can be frustrating even to adults, but if kids practise this from a young age, they will become more resilient with time.

In an interview with FMT news, CodeJuniors founder Jacqueline Lee said, “Maybe you might need 20 steps to solve a problem in your code, or to make a robot move in a circle or a square. Kids, especially younger ones [with no knowledge of coding], won’t have the foresight to think so far ahead.”

2. Enhances Creativity

Creativity is something we owe to the future generation. Mathematician and computer scientist Maria Klawe was quoted in a blog article saying that “coding is today’s language of creativity. All our children deserve a chance to become creators instead of consumers of computer science.”

Kids learn to express themselves through creativity. With coding, they can create their own simulations (eg. a moon making an orbit around the earth), build small machines (eg. mini robots), and even design their own video games!

3. Future employment

A research conducted by The Academy of Sciences Malaysia revealed that “one million people are required by 2020 to be in the science and technology fields.”

The same research also stated that digital or IT-related jobs will continue to be in demand for the next few years.

An article by  Michael Page supports this by saying that “conditions for growth are predicted to be positive for companies associated with technology and computer science, operating in areas of financial technology, app development, and even e-commerce.”

Along with that, 60% of Malaysian companies have said they are looking to prioritize hiring mid-to-high-level employees with digital skills, such as software programming, application development, and data analytics.

What’s also great is that these jobs come with really good salary packages as well.  Yes, you heard that right.

As seen by the statistics above, coding as a skill can become a competitive advantage when your kids are applying to colleges and internships in the future. How? Plain and simple, when your child learns coding from a young age, they can progress to more advanced programming and this will help them decide which IT course they would prefer to study based on their experience with coding. S/he instantly becomes a more desirable candidate in the eyes of university admissions departments and recruiters. This is especially so in a world where computer science is growing in demand.

 

Learn Coding Online!

Simple programming language tools such as Scratch allows kids between the age of 8 to 16 to learn the concept of programming and create animations/ stories using simple drag/drop blocks. Code Academy is a more advanced learning portal which allows older students and adults to learn how to code. One can learn how to analyze data and even build websites and front-end applications.

 

Conclusion

What’s more fun? Playing video games and operating machines by referring to manual instructions or creating your own versions of video games and appliances based on your own preferences?

Not everyone may have an interest in computer science but what kids learn from coding can aid their growth and brain development. In fact, the skills gained from learning to code can be applied to any career and hobby. Kids need to know that technological devices don’t run just by the consumption of electricity. If kids learn to code at a young age, they have the power to create and design machines for the betterment of their own future.

When I started working for Malaysian cloud solutions provider Lava Protocols, I discovered some of the work that the team here did for our clients, and I must say I was amazed. Their coding skills and knowledge are put to use to help transform the operations process in businesses! Pretty cool huh?

If you want to know more about the kind of work we do, email us at asklava@lavaprotocols.com or call us at 03-7885 9720

 

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Lava is a cloud solutions provider and an authorised Salesforce Partner in Malaysia. We have more than a decade of experience in cloud solutions which includes marketing automation, CRM implementation, change management, and consultation. We pride ourselves in not just being a CRM partner but also understanding the needs of our customers and taking their business to the next level.

Featured image in this article was taken from Freepik.com

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