Why is it important to practice programming

Learning to program for children: fit for the future with fun

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4 tips: this is how children can learn to code

1. Learn to code from home

There are numerous opportunities to learn to program and practice in a playful way at home. Including apps, online platforms or educational toys:

  • Start coding: Age-appropriate exercises and tutorials for children and adolescents. There is also a great overview of projects and initiatives related to computer science, programming, electronics and robots. Among other things, children will find opportunities here to meet and tinker together, as well as websites on the topic. Start-coding is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
  • code.org: Games that children can use to learn to code. There are many small courses for students of different ages on code.org. There are exercises that are carried out without a computer, explanatory videos and small exercise games in which what has been learned is then applied.
  • Lightbot: App for kids (English, costs around $ 3) that lets them learn the basics of programming in a fun way. The kids send a little robot down a predetermined path by constructing the right chains of command from simple visual building blocks. The chains of command become more complex from level to level.
  • Dash: a real robot for learning to program. All you need is a compatible tablet or smartphone and your child can learn the ABCs of programming by letting the learning robot dance, sing and zoom around the house. In addition, principles from science, technology, engineering and mathematics are taught. →Dash is available for 179.99 euros z. B. at Amazon

2. Programming languages ​​for children

Programming languages ​​are artificial languages ​​used for Communication between humans and computers. They are the most important tool for making the computer understand what it should do. Operating systems, applications, games, apps, websites and much more are written in these languages.

There are hundreds of programming languages, but few of them are widely used and have economic significance. Visual programming languages ​​are relatively easy to learn, while others are plain text and tend to be complex.

On these platforms, children can step by step to differentProgramming languages approach:

  • scratch.mit.edu/: "Scratch" is a popular one visual programming language. On this website children can learn to program their own interactive stories, animations, games, music and works of art with "Scratch". There is also an offline version.
  • Codecademy: Anyone interested in a Programming language would like to approach in which thecomplete code written by yourselfplatforms like Codecademy are suitable for this. After you have registered on the platform, you can download various important Programming languages ​​such as Python, PHP, jQuery, JavaScript, AngularJS, Ruby, HTML and CSSlearn. Since many courses are only available in English, the Codecadamy is more recommended for older children and young people.
  • Open Roberta: leads into that Programming robots a. On the "Open Roberta Lab" cloud platform, children learn the simple visual programming language "NEPO" and can have their programming skills tested by a virtual robot that simulates how a real robot would react to the self-written program. If you have your own EV3 robot, you will find instructions on how to program it. However, the structure and operation of the real robot are very complex, so they are more suitable for young people and adults. A project from the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS).

3. Programming workshops and hackathons

Learning together with others can be very inspiring. Teamwork and critical skills are also trained when projects are implemented together. In addition, there is of course always the opportunity to ask questions.

  • CoderDojo: Worldwide network that offers free programming workshops for children and young people between 7 and 17 years of age. On coderdojo.com, the budding programmers can use a map to find out if and when workshops are taking place in their area.
  • Django Girls and Rails Girls:Networks that are specifically aimed at girls and women. You organize worldwide programming and technology workshops.
  • Youth hack:On the website you will not only find many useful links and tips on various initiatives, events and online programs, but also the dates for the so-called "hackathons" that are held across Germany. This is where young people from 12 to 18 years of age meet and work together on their own ideas and projects under the guidance of mentors. The motto of Jugend hackt: "Improve the world with code"!
  • Teckids: regularly organize camps, including the "FrogLabs", which mostly take place as part of the FrOSCon (Free and Open Source Software Conference) near Bonn. There the children learn different things in workshops, for example to program a robot or a game.
  • Chaos Communication Congress: for interested children and young people, is always organized at the end of the year by the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) (mostly in Hamburg or Berlin). On the second day of the congress, there is the young hacker's day, on which there are special offers for the little ones. Those who go to the congress for the first time can contact the CCC beforehand and request a "Chaospatin". These help to find access to the matter, to find your way around the congress and to answer questions.

Hackathon of "Jugend hackt" 2015 in Berlin | CC-BY 4.0 youth hacks | © Leonard Wolf

4. Learning to code with children - tips for parents and teachers

Would you like to work out and implement your own programming or technology projects and ideas with your children or students? On the website of the association "Education, Innovation, Migration, Social Excellence" there is an inspiring and understandable manual: Making activities with children and young people. Handbook for creative digital design (edited by Sandra Schön, Martin Ebner and Kristin Narr).

Why is learning to program important for children in the first place?

We can hardly imagine a world of work completely without computers, the Internet and machines. In a study, two Oxford University scientists calculated that over the next two decades, 47 percent of the population would existing professions automated become.

Two decades: That is exactly when today's children have grown up. Do they have a future in which the majority of them will sooner or later be replaced by machines? No, because they digital revolution offers tremendous potential and creates many completely new jobs.

The children can be prepared for this. That doesn't mean they should be tuned for performance today. Rather, that parents and especially the education system are those in the long termPromote skills that will be important in the future.Amongst other things:

  • Social intelligenceTeamwork andintercultural understanding are important in labor markets (and also in societies) that are becoming more and more global.
  • creativity andIngenuity are important to find new solutions and ways of thinking.
  • Media literacy and IT skills are not only an important qualification for the future job market with ever stronger cooperation between man and machine. They are also essential for our children to find their way around in a digital society and to grow into active, responsible citizens.

Digital education: still a major construction site in Germany

There is a need for action in Germany in the field of digital education: In the "International Computer and Information Literacy Study" (ICILS), German students only made it into the middle field for computer competencies, in the Pisa report on digital competency Germany landed in the number of computers per student ranked 28th among 34 OECD countries. In most federal states, computer science lessons are only a compulsory elective, a cross-national concept for digital education is just in its infancy.

Digital education begins during school daysSo what could be more obvious than learning digitally? In scoyo's online learning world, children repeat their school material, for example, in exciting, multimedia-based stories.

Learn digitally and realistically now with scoyo:

Children have to learn to understand the digital world

What is actually the task of the education system, in Germany, it is mainly the parents who take on. Many associations and initiatives have recognized the need and are trying to bring children and young people closer to the digital world by offering, among other things, a wide variety of programs in the area of ​​"programming for children". The great thing: These are often free of charge or provide support if necessary (e.g. with travel expenses), so they are also suitable for technology-loving toddlers and families with a small budget.

"Of course, not every child has to become a programming ace. What is most important is that our offspring can judge what digital systems are doing in the future," says Daniel Bialecki, managing director of scoyo. "And if there is an interest in programming or in technology in general, parents can encourage this very well."