Pique your child's interest in coding

From next year, all upper primary pupils will take coding enrichment classes. The Straits Times tech journalist Lester Wong took a trial lesson to find out what kids can expect.
Children as young as seven learning to code using visual programming language Scratch at Coding Lab.
Children as young as seven learning to code using visual programming language Scratch at Coding Lab.ST PHOTO: VINCENT CHANG

If your child shows interest in coding, here are some ways to encourage him.

Ms Jasmine Tang, director at coding school Empire Code, said children should be allowed to learn at their own pace and follow their interests.

"We see girls enjoying the art and animation aspects of coding more, while boys tend to enjoy more of the gaming aspect," she said.

Ms Candice Wang, co-founder of coding school Coding Lab, said just like any new language, it will take time for children to pick up coding. "For them, it is not so much of learning the actual syntax, but rather the emphasis is placed on the application of computational thinking."

Ms Stephanie Law, co-founder of coding school SG Code Campus, said parents can support their children's passion by granting them screen time to experiment with their coding projects.

"The best way to learn is to teach. Encourage your child to teach a sibling, friend or even yourself how to code at home. It makes for quality bonding time."


Five coding apps and websites

Before signing up for coding enrichment classes, pique your child's interest with these coding resources.

Kodable

Cost: $9.98 a month for iPhone and iPad 

What: Learn programming concepts by guiding a lovable fuzzy ball through paths and mazes with simple directional commands in this educational game.


Hour of Code tutorials at Code.org 

Cost: Free; available for compatible browser on computers and tablets 

What: More than 200 one-hour coding tutorials featuring familiar characters from Star Wars, Frozen and Minecraft are available in over 45 languages at this website.


Glicode 

Cost: Free; available for iOS and Android devices 

What: Turn Pocky biscuit sticks into bite-sized code. Arrange the Pocky sticks correctly and take a photo with a smartphone to command an in-game character in puzzles.


ScratchJr 

Cost: Free; available for iPad and Android tablets 

What: Piece together graphical coding blocks in order to make characters run, jump and dance using this app. Pre-made characters and background art let users create their own stories and games.


Swift Playgrounds 

Cost: Free; available for iPad 

What: Pick up Apple's Swift programming language with this app, in which your child learns by directing a cute animated character through an increasingly challenging series of puzzles in a colourful 3D environment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Pique your child's interest in coding'. Print Edition | Subscribe