A few years ago, my son introduced me to the idea of block coding. I had only ever heard of the more common coding programs, such as Python, C++ and Java programming. Programming languages I balked at learning because of their steep learning curve. My son knew that I was learning to code websites and wanted to share with me that he was learning to code too.
Having never heard of block coding before, I had to see what he was talking about. He was only too eager to show me his creations on a program called “Scratch”. They had been working on this program at school. At that time, he had created a short video game and a few animations. All of which impressed me.
As he was showing me, he was teaching me about it. I learned that block coding takes the syntax out of the equation. Syntaxes are the code rules. With most software programming languages, you need to follow these rules. Spelling must be accurate, and the code must follow a specific format. If you make even one little mistake with the syntax, it can ruin your entire project. Block coding removes this risk and allows even young children, like my son, to code. He was 7 when he first learned “Scratch”.
After he showed me block coding, I researched a bit more. I discovered a few great reasons why children should learn block coding. There are 3 main skills that children build by block coding that stood out to me.
Develop A Foundation in Coding
One important skill that children learn from block coding is coding, also known as computational logic. In the future, technology will advance, as it always does. The children of today will likely need to understand a bit of programming as many adults in many industries are currently. There are many online courses and specialized schools out there just because coding is becoming an important skill set nowadays.
Improve Problem-Solving Skills
When children run into errors while block coding, they must find a way to fix them. And they will because of the promise of the result. Creating a custom video game is an enticing reason to persevere when faced with problems in the code. They learn to figure it out and make it work because they want it to work. Block coding is logic-based. Because of that, children learn problem-solving from a logical standpoint.
Encourage Creative Expression
The fun things you can create while block coding is impressive. The most popular use of block coding is to create games. Having seen a few of the games that my son made, I realized how it allowed him to express his creativity. One game was a maze, another was a clicking game, and another was an adventure game. Each one had their style and fun story. Not only does it encourage him to be more creative, but it also gets him excited to create.
In conclusion, programming is part of our children’s future, and they may find they need to learn it one day. Block coding is a great way to get them started building that foundation to prepare. It also provides mental stimulation which improves their cognitive abilities. The bonus though is they are having fun being creative while learning. This makes it such a fantastic educational tool for young children. I am so glad my son's teacher introduced him to it. It has benefited him in so many ways.
Fig. 1. My son using the “Scratch” block coding program on his computer. Photo by Andrea Dyson.
Written by Andrea Dyson
College of New Caledonia Student
Digital Content Creation Course
Professor Melanie Law
Edited by Nikolas Zetouni