Introducing kids to computer programming can be beneficial in several ways. Not only can developing computer programming knowledge be helpful in their future education, it can even improve employment marketability when kids are older.

Learning computer programming can also help improve others skills, such as problem solving, mathematical skills and critical thinking skills. Although it may sound like a good idea, is it possible to get kids interested in not only computer games, but computer programming? The answer is yes. With a few tools and a little creativity, you can introduce your kids to computer programming successfully.

Start Early

While it is unlikely your 5-year old will be interested in learning how to design a computer program, he can become familiar with using a computer. Before any programming information can be taught, familiarity with how to use a computer is essential. Various types of children’s computer games are available, which will teach your child how to operate a computer. It is also helpful to teach kids computer centered vocabulary  early.  Using words like hard drive and coding help teach kids simple computer terms early.

Make it Fun

Like most subjects, if you can make computer programming fun, children will be interested and stick with it. There are several tools available for parents and teachers to get school age children and teens interested in computer science and programming. For example, Alice is a fun tool to help teach kids object oriented computer programming. Kids have the opportunity to create an animated image using programming.

Another fun tool, which introduces kids to programming, is Scratch. The way it works is kids use the Scratch programming language to make interactive projects, such as games, music and stories. Scratch is intended for children age 6 and older. The program was developed by the MIT Media Lab and gets financial support from companies, such as Microsoft and Intel.

Consider Online Classes

Although computer science classes may be available for kids, it may be hard to work classes into your child’s schedule. In addition to school, extracurricular activities and family time, finding the time for a computer class may be difficult. That’s where online classes may be a good fit. Online computer science classes are a fun way to introduce children to computer science. Online classes may work especially well for older kids and teen.

Online computer programming classes may be available for kids through local community colleges and parks and recreational departments. Additionally, Stanford has free classes online in computer science, which is appropriate for children. Since classes vary each semester, check Stanford’s website to get the latest information on classes.

Do it Together

Learning about computer programming can be an activity you do together. Not only will this allow you the chance to help answer questions and teach your child, but it is a good opportunity to spend time together. Try setting aside a little time each week to spend with your child introducing the concept of computer programming. Whether you play a game, take an online class together, or just work on a computer project, the important part is working side by side to learn about computer science. Keep in mind, your child may not become a computer programming whiz, but even basic programming knowledge will be beneficial.

Tips

Introducing your child to computer programming will likely be useful in their future. In order for it go a little smoother, consider some of these additional tips:

· Use age appropriate lessons. Before you use a computer programming tool or sign your child up for a class, review it and make sure it is right for your child’s age.

·  Don’t go overboard. Although you may want your child to learn computer science and feel it is good for her, don’t put too much pressure on your child.

·  Try a variety of ideas. Not every computer programming game or idea may work for every child. Remember children are unique and have different learning styles. If something does not click, try something different.

·  Have realistic expectations. Keep in mind your child may not take to computer programming as much as you wish. In addition, your child may not have developed the critical thinking skills needed for programming at their age.