“Mom, I want to learn programming” | Technique

“Mom or Dad, I want to learn programming”: If your child asks for this, you may not know what to do. You are not a huge computer expert and you can’t always go to school either. However, programming is not at all scary and you can help your child with it.

Kids can start programming from the age of four, says Harald van Breederode, who works as an ICT coordinator and primary school teacher in Castricum. “Programming is nothing more than step-by-step thinking. If you do it, it will happen.”

Some parents have daily rhythm cards so their children know what they are going to do at any time of the day. First get up and take a shower, then go to school, then play outside for example. You can use these cards to explain the sequential steps (algorithms) to your child. Remove them from the wall and ask your child to arrange them. It helps in inference, deduction and arrangement.”

Another example: stack the cups in a certain order or good color match. These activities do not require a tablet or computer. This only comes at a later age, says van Breederud. Recommend for children from six years old Scratch JuniorFor regular children from nine years old scratch† This is a popular programming software for kids, designed by the leading American technical university MIT. Knowing the code language is not necessary yet, you are programming by moving the colored blocks.

looks like a game

Van Breederud: ,,scratch Perfect for newcomers to programming. It looks like a game. All kinds of free educational materials can be found on the Internet, which simply explain how to make a doll that moves or changes color. or how for example bongBall game.”

Does your child love lego? You can also play with Lego fans from the age of seven LEGO Wido Learn programming, he says. “With Lego’s block programming language, you can control your toys in no time. You can also use the motor, motion and tilt sensors. But they are expensive.”

Lego also helps teach children programming. © LEGO

Parents hardly need help

He stresses that the elderly should not be afraid of cold feet. Babies often don’t need much help. They also teach themselves via YouTube playing music or dancing. They can also learn programming largely on their own. Explain the basics and they can get started.”

Programming is a step-by-step approach, says Pauline Maas, who lectures to guests at various schools and is the director of the CodeKlas Foundation.

For young children, she recommends Bee-Bot. This is a big yellow bee with small buttons. Kids program the bee by pressing buttons. Three seconds forward and one second left for example. This way they can always lead the bee across the room in a different way.

No need for a computer

“At this age you don’t need a computer yet. Only in group 8 I start with micro:bit. This is a small microcomputer (4 x 5 cm) with buttons to operate and with LEDs that can be operated in different programming languages.”

micro:bit was marketed by the British BBC television channel to teach children how to code and now almost all schools in England are working with it. You can choose a block language program from Microsoft, Javascript, Python and Touch Develop.

micro:bit is a small size computer intended for programming lessons.
micro:bit is a small size computer intended for programming lessons. © Micro:bit

Ban language

Mas usually uses block language. “This works fine. You don’t need to know any advanced programming language. Within ten minutes you learn to light the light with the micro:bit. And by pressing the other buttons, you can see what the programmer looks like in the real code.”

Are your children a little older? The above is also for children who are in high school scratch Very suitable. So said Ramon Morlag, a computer science teacher at Reverend Pearson College in Den Bosch and president of i&i, the trade association for educators of computer science and digital literacy.

“It may seem childish in appearance, but it is a very good foundation. The principles behind scratch It is the same principles as a programming language like Python. For example, you learn to work with variables. And if they think it’s too childish, pick up! Option. In terms of interface, this is the adult brother of scratch† You also work with blocks, but the interface feels a little less childish.”

Children make prosthetic limbs by hand

During his classes, Moorlag sees students aged 12 and over progress quickly. It starts with some theory. What is data, how does binary code work, what is hexadecimal? Students who have computer science in their subject package will expand and deepen their knowledge further in the senior years. I’ve already seen the craziest things during exam projects. From homemade prosthetics to the reservation system at a French campground.”

Moorlag offers another tip for parents who want to help their children learn programming and who have little experience. “There is a large online community that is eager to help. For example, check out CoderDojo near you, which are volunteer-run communities where children as young as 17 learn programming.”

As a parent who wants to help a child, you don’t have to be technical. “Programming is not a science. And not knowing everything at first isn’t a bad thing. It’s just humble experienceYou will experience what your children experience every day when they start something completely new.”

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