When we think of technology today, what often comes to mind are gadgets like computers, smartphones, robots, and cars. And one thing they have in common is this – they all require coding to make them function.
Coding is widely considered to be the epitome of technology today – almost every piece of new technology requires some form of coding or programming. And as a part of the STEAM framework, technology is recognised to be a crucial part of education for the next generation workforce. So, does this mean that every child should learn how to code?
Some people believe so. Coding has wide applications and it is in high demand in the workforce. Adults and children alike are enrolling in coding courses to give them an edge over their peers.
Coding for children typically starts with exposing them to the logic behind basic coding principles. Simply speaking, it teaches children computational thinking without delving into complex coding language. In fact, parents can start their children on computational thinking right at home! Here are some key skills involved in computing and how you can help your child practise them:
Decomposition is the ability to break a process down into its fundamental steps. For example, doing the laundry consists of the steps: Taking the clothes from the laundry basket, loading the clothes into the washer, putting laundry detergent in the washer, and pressing the right settings to start the washer.
Being able to determine the steps required to complete a task will help children manage complex tasks and problem-solve. You can help them practise by giving your child a task to do, and asking them to verbalise the steps before they go and perform the task.
Debugging is the process of problem-solving by testing out solutions until the issue is resolved. An example is when the television remote stops working – the debugging process will have you try solutions like changing the batteries, moving closer to the TV, or removing obstructions in front of the TV, until you find one that works.
Knowing how to approach problems by debugging is a crucial skill in computing and other forms of science. You can help your child pick up this skill by verbalising your thought process during problem-solving and inviting your child to be involved in the process.
Persistence is the ability to continue in the face of challenges or failures. This is a skill that is not only useful in coding and programming, but also in all aspects of life.
Giving your child ample opportunities to learn new skills can help them train up a heart of perseverance – do also make sure to encourage them to see through the whole process. Some things children can embark on are: learning to ride a bike, or picking up an instrument.
Pattern recognition is the ability to identify recurrent features in a complex system. Knowing how to do so is essential for classification and simplifying information.
One great way to improve pattern recognition skills is through puzzles and games like SET. You can also make use of building blocks to create patterns that you can ask your child to continue.
As you can see, you don’t need expertise in coding to be able to impart these computational thinking skills to your child – you can do so equally using everyday activities. If you decide that your child is ready to upgrade their skills with some actual coding, you can then enrol them in a curriculum that will expose them to it.
Besides coding classes, your child’s school can also provide them with opportunities to learn and pursue interests in tech-related projects. One school that does a spectacular job in this is the Canadian International School (CIS) – their STEAM education programme offers students platforms to embark on hands-on projects to engage with interdisciplinary learning.
At the international school in Singapore, students can get involved in projects involving coding and robotics, as well as gain experience through exploration and collaboration. If a top international school experience in IB education is what you’re looking for, you can consider what CIS has to offer.
Keep up with the fast-moving tech-driven world by making sure your child grows up with the necessary computational thinking skills – whether at home or in school, learning opportunities abound!