How Programmers Teach Their Children To Code

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How Programmers Teach Their Children To Code

On the one hand, here are collected short and almost step-by-step guides for teaching children to program. On the other hand, there are ordinary life stories about the relationship between children and parents, reflections on the peculiarities of children’s perception of the world. While we are in a coronavirus pandemic, we can still celebrate National Son Day in our home while teaching our children basic programming ideas.

Start with the elementary

When my son Sai was four years old, we already started using programs for creating logos on the iPad (Mad Logo) and making animations using the Scratch programming language for children. But I wanted my son to look inside and came up with some tricks that could captivate him with programming in Python. This language is simple enough for a child to understand and yet powerful enough to implement all the ideas that come to my mind and for which I am paid a good salary.

Switch to Python

Do you know that Python is already installed on your MacBook? You just need to open a terminal window and enter python to run (you need to press ctrl + d to exit). Everything you need to get up and running with Python is in this tutorial.

Talk to your computer

In order for the child to pay attention, I have a special life hack. Make your computer talk! If you have a MacBook, then just open a terminal window and enter the command “welcome”. The computer will answer “hello”. Isn’t it magic?

Everything else you can easily find on the Internet

Imagine that you want to teach your child something difficult. Let’s say recursion. Remember what it is? I remembered, but damn it, I was very interested – how can I explain something really difficult to a child (such as recursion)? I used an excellent one from Khan Academy that talks about a recursive factorial program in an accessible way. Here is the code we used with my son. He was 6 years old then and I think he was too young to understand recursion, but he really enjoyed watching a computer do really big factorials. I’m sure there are 6-year-olds who have already made millions of dollars from an iPhone game they wrote themselves. But my children did not start writing their own programs. In fact, I’m not even sure if they are interested in programming! However, thanks to these exercises, my son Sai became interested in factorials and, most importantly, saw that programming is something that absolutely everyone can do. I advise you – there is a lot of materials for effective learning to program.

Starting from scratch

Scratch is very fun and intuitive. And this platform is just like that very Lego. My son has been actively using it for more than two years and even now sometimes looks there.

Real coding

Moving from the warm and cozy world of visual programming to the harsh and cold world of regular command-line text input (and the following error messages) is a big and important moment.

First language

I read the guidelines and chose Python. I myself work HTML / Javascript, PHP / Laravel, Node / Express, I had no experience with Python. But I immediately realized that this was the best solution and ordered the book “Python for Kids”. Python is an easy-to-read and elegant language. You don’t need to write as much code in it as it does in C-like languages. I took my mother’s laptop and installed Python and Sublime on it. His Scratch skills allowed him to quickly master variables, conditionals, loops, and lists. It all started out quite cheerfully, but then my son stopped and lost his motivation. The tasks from the second part of the book could not compete with the same Scratch, let alone the Xbox. But I understand that it was a great experience for both of us, and I am sure that in the future my son will return to Python because it has so many uses.

JavaScript comes to the rescue

I remember how excited he was when he realized that he could view code on sites and change content using Chrome DevTools. Adding “poop” to the titles of web pages is a lot of fun for kids. I decided that he needed to master HTML and JavaScript, and ordered the book “JavaScript for Kids”, which covers all the basics. He worked on the book for a little over an hour on weekends but made significant progress.