Coding and Programming for Kids

What is Coding?

Coding is the ability to instruct the computer to work as you please by translating lines of text into actions. In order to communicate with the computer, you must learn to use a language that the computer can understand. Just as how English or Mandarin can be languages that we use daily to communicate with our teachers, friends and family, the language that the computer uses is coding. There are many different coding languages, (Eg. C++, Java, Swift, Python, Perl, PhP) and each language has its niche in different industries. For example, Objective C is used to develop iOS apps, and a similar app on the android phone is programmed using Java. C# is used to build Windows applications while PHP is used in many web applications. You can take a look at this infographic which explains the use of different languages in a fun way. However, the fundamentals are all the same. What is most important is the ability to break down the problem in to smaller pieces (Decomposition), think logically and give step-by-step instructions (Algorithmic thinking) to the computer,regardless of which coding language is used.

Why should my child learn Coding?

Coding teaches one to think logically and can also help develop creativity. By planning out the actions step-by-step, one needs to think through the process and make it most efficient to achieve the final results. Most importantly, almost all technology that we interact with today are a result of coding. Love your iphone? The iOs operating system, the Apps and games that you love (Eg. Angry Birds, Flappy Bird) are all a result of coding. Your commands in code will apply to the different game components, such as the actions your characters will take with the different keys pressed, as well as the graphics and animation that are involved in making the characters look nice.

How will this help my child in School?

Logical thinking will benefit your child in all subjects at school, as they will learn how to structure their answers and think through the problems in an organized way. Your child may find that what they have learnt at coding class can be easily applied to Science and Math. Coding and mathematics are very closely linked, and children who have difficulties understanding or who are advanced and simply want to learn more will find that coding is very useful in understanding key mathematical concepts. With the Scratch software, fractions, time, algebra and angles come to life for your child and immerses them and hones their mathematical capabilities. This will help them to develop a solid mathematical background, which can also be applied back to coding, enabling them to code more efficiently.

I want to minimize screen time for my child. Does this program encourage more screen time?

Today, many of our children are exposed to digital technology at a very young age. This will become a key part of their lives later on. We have to differentiate between good screen time and bad screen time. Bad screen time happens when your child mindlessly play games or watch videos with no educational value. Whereas good screen time educates your child by stimulating their brains. Coding requires your child to think – they first have to creatively think of an idea, break down the idea into smaller blocks and finally apply logical thinking to develop clear instruction steps to control the computer.

Coding Lab Classes

My child’s school already covers coding. Do I still need to sign up for this programme?

It is good that the school is introducing your child to coding, where they will learn the fundamentals. Based on our experience, most of our past participants have commented that this programme enabled them to have superior understanding of the fundamentals, and that the small class size of 8 made it easier for them to learn faster and ask questions easily. Our small class size and experienced instructors will help in providing your child with personalized attention by focusing on his or her needs. Our series of coding classes for kids are also developed to progressively move the kids to an advanced level of understanding that goes significantly beyond the curriculum taught in public schools.

How old must my child be in order to learn coding?

Traditionally, coding used to be taught at the tertiary level , using languages such as C++ and Java. However with the advancements today, there are software that have been developed specifically to engage young children via animations, blocks and commands which are more visually attractive. Children today can start learning how to code from as young as 3 with our Scratch Junior programme and our Scratch programme is targeted at children aged 9-12.

Why are you focusing on Scratch? Other schools teach other languages too such as App Inventor, Python etc?

As parents ourselves, we remember how we inculcated the love of reading to our young ones via picture books first, followed by the alphabet, phonics, punctuation and grammar only at a later stage.

Similarly, Scratch is a suitable introductory programming language because it is designed specifically for children aged 7-12. A software that uses block-based commands and colourful graphics to teach programming, the Scratch interface helps to cultivate an interest in programming by removing the need for syntax (Computer version of punctuation, spelling and grammar), and serves to pique your child’s curiosity by enabling them to work on projects which they are familiar with – games and animations. Our complete Scratch programme runs at 40 hours, and we do not believe in mixing in other programming languages before the kids have had the chance to fully understand how Scratch works. By focusing on a single platform, your kids will be focusing on building his/her mastery in programming and computational thinking, instead of spending their time trying to overcome the inertia of having to relearn different platforms. The skills which they have learnt in Scratch will be easily transferable to other block-based programming languages such as App Inventor, etc and for those with the aptitude, we will introduce them to the more complex coding languages after they have mastered basic programming concepts with Scratch.

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