February 2024 Newsletter – Tech Skills for Children: Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?

Can Preschoolers Learn Coding?

When we think of computer programming and coding, we often think about very technical processes and complex computer languages. However, coding can be very simple, making it a perfect entry point for preschool-age children. Coding is essentially telling a computer what you want it to do. It consists of creating a step-by-step guide for the computer to follow to accomplish a task.

At the preschool level, we are laying the foundation for children to think like computer programmers.  Coding helps teach problem-solving skills and develops new ways of thinking. Coding teaches children to think logically. There are several coding concepts that preschoolers can understand including, algorithms, sequencing, and loops. Let’s explore further:

  • Algorithms: We use algorithms daily. An algorithm is simply a set of instructions used to accomplish a certain task and receive the desired result. For example, the steps used to get dressed properly is an algorithm. There is a certain order to putting on clothes that must be followed to be dressed correctly. You can encourage children to create an algorithm for dressing a classroom doll. Ask students to create a detailed list of the steps required for dressing the doll. They can challenge each other to follow each other’s algorithms and analyze the results. They can identify what worked, which steps are missing, and which steps might need to be reorganized. Illustrating the daily routine and referring to it often is also an example of an algorithm used to navigate each day.
  • Sequencing: Another concept that preschoolers can understand is sequencing. Sequencing is basically completing a task in a certain order. Helping students understand what a sequence is can be accomplished by using their favorite storybook. Using different scenes from the book, have the students sort out the order in which the events happened in the story. Ask questions that require children to think about what the story would be like if pieces were missing or out of order.
  • Loops: A third concept of coding that children can understand is loops. A loop in coding allows the programmer to repeat something again and again as many times as desired. A loop in code is a “repeat” button for instructions. If you have a list of things to do and you want the computer to do it repeatedly, use a loop to tell the computer to keep doing it until I want you to stop. A great way to teach this concept is through instructions on how to perform the steps of a dance.

The concepts of algorithms, sequences, and loops are basic to coding. Gaining an early understanding of what these are will establish a foundation for learning to code. Our preschoolers can be taught these concepts in easy-to-understand ways. While explaining and teaching these coding concepts to younger children it is useful to start with examples of tasks with which children are already familiar. These simple examples will teach the basic concepts of coding. There are many resources online with fun coding activities for young children that can be used in your classroom.

So, the answer to our question, “Can preschoolers learn coding?”, the answer is of course they can!

 

For the main article Tech Skills for Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The “Unplugged” Approach to Exploring Computer Science, CLICK HERE

For the article The Benefits of Computational Thinking Skills for Younger Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Computer Science Confidence for Teachers, CLICK HERE