4 reasons why elementary school students should learn to code

By Valeria Cori-Manocchio

If children are the future, then coding is their language going forward. Coding allows anyone behind a keyboard to input instructions that tell a computer what to do; you can make anything from webpages, illustrations, or entire websites.

What sounds like complicated work for many, besides computer engineers and programmers, has become a useful tool for elementary school students in today’s tech-centered world.
Here are some of the many reasons why it is never too early to learn the craft of coding in or out of the classroom.

1. It’s fun and interactive According to a 2016 study by the Spanish National University of Distance Education (UNED), coding allows students to learn by doing. As the device – be it an iPad or computer – sits in front of them, students have the option to observe or follow along with their instructor.

They can apply the new information straightaway, rather than waiting to get home and trying to remember everything demonstrated in class. This interactive medium also makes the learning process more fun since students can acquire new information by simply participating on an iPad or computer.

2. It encourages problem solving skills and thinking The beauty of computer coding is when something is not properly inputted, the programmer will notice immediately because some aspect of the project will not work. This feature enables each student to become a problem solver and an independent thinker.

Mr. Charles Northey, a teacher at Royal West Academy’s computer department and one of the faculty organizers for the school’s Hack-a-Thon Club, says coding teaches students to break down a problem in multiple parts; this lets students figure out what went wrong in certain parts of the code and how they can fix the problem accordingly.

3. It merges following instructions with creativity Coding programs that are specially designed for elementary school students combine organized steps and creative elements to produce a visual result.

Web-accessible programs and apps like Scratch, Tynker and Cargo-Bot, incorporate clear instructions
while letting students take the creative reins to produce an end result. For example, Scratch uses bricks as visual computing language; when users drag bricks with different properties, they are taking the desired image form their minds and bringing it to life on a computer or iPad screen.

4. It’s about synthesizing new information, not about memorization “The main goal of coding is to understand the language of the digital world,” says Northey.

Once students begin to grasp how the online world works, they can apply these lessons to other aspects of their life. Not only do they absorb the existing information, but they can also contribute new ways of thinking and creating. As Northey says, “code works as a tool to realize a certain project’s vision.”

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