Coding for preschoolers? According to a Bloomberg article, the latest craze among parents in China is preschool coding classes. This is a trend increasingly seen in Singapore as well. The reasons quoted for parents to earnestly enroll kids as young as 3 yrs old for coding lessons range from:
Preparing their kids for a world in which “half the jobs in some countries will be replaced by robots and computers”
Improving kids’ logic and reasoning skills
Giving kids an extra tool to express themselves
Belief in the saying that the younger you start, the better you will beIn Singapore, a growing number of children are also learning computational thinking in selected preschools as part of the curriculum.
For instance, at ripplecreate we are receiving more enquiries about preschool coding programs for kids as young as 5 years old, who may not even be reading yet.
What are the benefits of teaching coding to preschoolers? Here are a few more interesting facts about preschool coding that you may not know:
For parents who are worried about over-exposing their child to screen-based activities, you will be thrilled to know that coding principles can be imparted off the screen as well! There are screen-free coding activities for preschoolers called tactile programming. This is where we engage the children in fun games and activities that lay the foundation of computational thinking without utilizing screen-based devices.
An edge in academics (especially mathematics)
While not every child will be a programmer, the skills of sequencing, decomposition, logical thinking and debugging instilled while learning coding will greatly aid your child academically (especially in math). Not only that, it will enhance his or her problem-solving skills in life!
The skills learnt while coding come under the umbrella term “computational thinking”. They help a child to break down complex problems into manageable chunks of information, recognize patterns and be more effective in problem solving. These acquired skills will lead to a generally more well-regulated child and eventually, an adult who will be more resilient against complex challenges.
Fun, fun, fun
Coding activities for preschoolers are fun, fun and more fun! This is because we incorporate computing fundamentals into the very activities that little kids naturally love. For instance, music, drama, art and craft, space exploration and adventure are all familiar children-friendly themes which we have used for our coding programs.
The intuition for coding
One may argue that it is a long, long way before these preschoolers will ever sit down at a computer and code like a real programmer. However, coding is a language. When a child becomes familiar with using it, the actual language acquisition will be intuitive. In Singapore, many kids these days struggle with their second language but seem to coast through English grammar. This is probably because they are so familiar with the English language that they have intuitively imbibed its language structure. Consequently, this is the outcome we want to produce with coding for preschoolers too, that the language of coding and its computational thinking principles will become second nature by the time they reach the age of being able to program in syntax.
Breaking down complex terms
Do you know one of the first coding terms we introduce to preschoolers is the term “algorithm”? It seems like a big, scary adult word but our instructors were able to cleverly break it down to preschoolers. The term “algorithm” in computer science simply means a series of steps that you take to execute a particular function. For instance, the bedtime routine of brushing your teeth, reading a bedtime story and being tucked into bed by your parents can be described as an algorithm. To help the students remember the long word and how to pronounce it, we will need to break up the word into smaller, digestible words like “al”, “go”, and “rithm”.This is “decomposition”. Decomposition is a fundamental precept of problem solving used in computing. Now it appears we have taught one coding term but imparted two fundamental coding principles instead!
ripplecreate and Coding Classes for Preschoolers
ripplecreate first ventured into the domain of early childhood education several years ago. Back then, we developed ad-hoc coding programs with established preschool operators such as Mindchamps, Posso and even international schools. As we gained more experience in developing technology curriculum for preschoolers, we found that coding fundamentals can be blended very easily into the activities preschoolers readily enjoy and love! Now, we are a whizz at preschool coding programs and have conducted them at St James Church Kindergarten and after-school coding enrichment programs at various E-bridge (a member of EtonHouse group) preschools all over the island.
Check out our March holidays Tinker Whiz camp for preschoolers.