With the best of intentions, you are not going to teach your preschoolers how to code. However, you can introduce them to the concepts of coding, a little like how you may introduce a toddler to swimming by letting them kick around in the paddling pool. Here are a few ways you may introduce your kids to programming.
1 – Try Online Games
You can teach kids programming with online games. The quality of these games is pretty mixed, but there are now so many that you can burn through several until you find the ones that work. Again, you are not aiming to teach your kids to code by definition, you are introducing the world of coding and its concepts. Gaming is just one way your kids may first be introduced.
2 – Teach Them to Play With Lego
Learning how one piece fits onto another and learning how these simple shapes can create complex shapes is a great introduction to the fundamentals of coding and language. Knowing that smaller component parts can be built into larger things helps foster an understanding of how a coding language can build into a program, or how letters can make words to make sentences. Lego may also bring out the creative side that many coders need in order to solve the problems they face on a daily basis.
3 – Have Them Work Their Way out of Simple Mazes
Set a small maze, ask your kid to close their eyes, and then direct them through the maze with just your verbal instructions. Let them learn that their mind is not the only controlling force in the universe. Let them understand how something like spoken instructions can lead to action. It will make the comprehension of coding a lot easier when your child is older.
4 – Visual Image Story Sequences
You have a visual image of a story, a very simple story, and you break it up and have your child put it together. The weird thing is that kids have no sense of story structure and story arcs, so you may find some very odd stories being created by your kid. Like how Tommy was sad when he was alone, then happy with the ball, and then the story ends with the ball going away and the cat looking surprised. It fits no traditional narrative, but your kid understands it perfectly.
5 – Finding Something in The House
Hide something distinct in your house and see if your kid can find it. Ideally, you should try a colorful and reasonably sized fridge magnet. This is because the magnet can be attached to metal things for extra hiding spots. Do not make it too difficult, the magnet must be visually available (i.e. not stuffed into a sofa cushion). Finding the item helps develop the type of searching thought process that coding requires. Over time, your child will learn to search more methodically and less frantically, which is another good attribute for a coder to have.
6 – Shapes Puzzle Boxes
What fits in where? There are some coding problems where the limitations of technology means there is a narrower number of options available for a coder. The coder has to pick from a selection of options, many of which may not be ideal for the problem in hand. Figuring out which shapes go in which holes uses the same types of logical thinking required for coding problems.
7 – Copying Designs With Building Blocks
Give you child a simple structure and ask them to try to copy the structure with their building blocks. The process involves far more logic than it first appears. Oddly enough, you have no idea how difficult this process is until you see a child try it.