Image Credit: Tynker
Image Credit: Tynker

Encouraging your kids to get involved with coding is one of the best things you can do for them as an insurance against their future; there will never be a shortage of tech-related jobs. Preparing children early on will help them have the necessary skills to find a great job in their career or even create a startup of their own. Your child could be the next to create bots that simplify businesses or social platforms that cultivate a community. When it comes to coding, it’s never too early to get started.

1.) Coding Toys
Not long ago, children were limited to learning complex skills with puzzles and back-of-the-box cereal challenges. Now, there are many toys and games available to help kids learn to code at an early. They combine learning with playing, making the experience enjoyable for children of all ages. A few popular toys for coding include:

Dash and Dot: This talking robot integrates with Android and iOS to teach coding skills to kids up to five years old. The robot needs to be programmed, and can respond to sound and light while dancing and singing around the house.

Sphero SPRK Edition: This toy teaches children robotics, coding, and STEM principles via a kid-friendly C-based language called OVAL. The visual block-based makes it fun to learn basic programming principles.

MoverKit: MoverKit is a DIY unassembled wearable that launched on Kickstarter. It helps kids aged 8 and over creatively learn the fundamentals of programming and electronics.

Kano: The Kano allows children to assemble their own computers using basic wiring, a Rasberry Pi-powered board, and modular display unit.

2) Summer Tech Programs
Summer tech programs weren’t very popular in the 90s, but things have changed. Today, these tech programs are some of the most innovative and fun around the world, and truly offer valuable lessons to children. Here are a few of the most popular options:

ID Tech Camps: This camp claims to be the #1 tech camp in the country, with a solid 6:1 camper to counselor ratio that gives each camper the individual attention they need. They offer one-week and two-week long intensive programs, and there are several options to choose from. At the Stanford and MIT locations, teens can develop iPhone and Facebook apps or RPG game design.

Girls Who Code: There are several programs geared towards encouraging women (like Girls Learning Code and CodeChix). Girls Who Code has garnered an impressive reputation for its 7-week summer immersion program. It’s free for 10th and 11th grade high school students, and classrooms are held in companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and AT&T. The Club Program is for 6th-12th grade students who come together to create computer science Impact Project that helps solve a community problem through technology. The program proudly showcases the projects girls come up with through Powered by Her.

Emagination Camps: Emagination’s long-running camps offer day and overnight programs in five major cities to children of all ages. Each day, campers participate in tech workshops to learn everything from Photoshop to computer system configuration to PCB design software and robotics.

3.) Programming Apps
In addition to toys and camps, there are online programs and apps that help teach children how to games and codes. The kid-friendly apps will have children learn Javascript in no time.

HopScotch: This is a free iPad app that teaches kids how to create games via simple-to-learn tools. Children can add commands to build their own game, try out their creation, and check out other games built by the HopScotch community.

Tynker: Tynker is another free app that’s a little more complex that HopScotch. It comes equipped with a game called “Codey’s Quest,” utilizing various programming puzzles you’ll need to solve to your character home. Kids will learn to build visual blocks, then progress to text-based coding as they move on to game designing and app building.

ScratchJr: ScratchJr is a drag-and-drop program for budding programmers. It allows children to build simple, interactive scenes to life via snap-together commands and basic programming.

Move the Turtle: Move the Turtle introduces coding concepts in a more linear format via a “learn as you go” strategy.  Children give programming-style instructions a turtle as the animal goes through a series of challenges.

Credit: Staff Writer