Getting a normal and healthy preschooler to sit down and do anything for an extended time is difficult enough, so you need to start with a very open mind, you need to create a very low-pressure environment, and you have to be prepared to give up and try again when your child is older.
Consider the guide in this article as a way of introducing your young child to the concepts and world of coding.
Even if you fail in your mission to introduce your child to coding, things will be okay if make sure it is a 100% positive experience so that your child will not be dissuaded from learning to code when he or she is a few years older.
A positive experience is the most important part of the entire process.
Teach the Most Basic Concepts
There are two elements to coding. There is the building side and the language side.
The building side is tricky for a child to understand, so start them with the very basic concept of building. Try things like Lego and blocks and show them how things are built.
Show them how smaller parts can be combined to make larger parts. Do not rush this process.
It may seem overly simple, but your child needs to understand that smaller things can be combined to make bigger things and that the bigger things can perhaps serve a use.
Teaching The Language Side of Coding
Start with the very basics with regard to language and coding. Try teaching the principles of “IF”, “AND”, “OR” and make it part of your everyday life.
Even simple things like “IF you clear away your toys…” and so forth.
Do not underestimate how simple you need to make the building and language concept understandable. This is the baseline and foundation for your child’s future understanding of coding.
Even if the coding languages change and evolve to accommodate big data AI and quantum computing, it is these foundation lessons in coding language and building concepts that will help your child continue to excel in later life.
Try a Very Gentle Online Course
You need something interactive for preschoolers. Having them sit in front of the screen trying to learn something is going to be fruitless in many cases (even if Sponge Bob is giving the lecture).
Keep Your Lessons Very Short
You are on borrowed time when teaching preschoolers something as complicated as coding. If you use a course, then try them in very short bursts.
Your kid is mostly motivated by the fact you are spending time with him or her. If things start to get too difficult, your kid is going to want to do something else.
Be Wary of Too Much Praise
When parents and teachers want to encourage young children, they tend to over-praise because they think it will keep the child interested. However, even though praise is a good thing, it isn’t a preschooler’s motivation for a task.
In almost every case, your preschool child is engaging with a task because it is something you are doing and they want to spend time with you. And, they are doing it because it is something new, and new things are interesting.
Though praise is a good thing, it is only a small tool in your teaching process.
On a similar note, you should never be negative, scolding or highlighting how a child is wrong. They are much too young to mesh the ideas of negativity/scolding with what they are learning.
They may understand it when breaking house rules, like throwing paint on the walls, but negativity/scolding simply doesn’t work when teaching preschoolers something new.