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How To Use Scratch Coding To Get Your Incredibly Smart Kids Into Coding

There are many wonderful ways to teach children life skills they will need for the future, from playing board games together to creating chores and reward systems to giving positive reinforcement for their actions. Every parent is completely unique in their approach to teaching their children, but there is one common thread in all parenting: We want the best for our children. One way we give our children the best is by preparing them for the future. But how do we prepare a child for a world that does not yet exist?

Some skills are necessary for all children, such as skills in literacy, math, and science. Some skills benefit every child, like music education, the arts, and bilingualism. With the fast pace of technological advances in our current world, another skill is quickly emerging that benefits all children: Coding. While we may think of coding as text-based languages such as HTML, JavaScript, and Python, coding can be utilized in a much simpler form. One platform that makes coding simpler is Scratch.

What is Scratch?

Learning coding languages is like learning any new language such as French, Spanish, or Italian. With coding, not only do you need to learn commands, you also need to learn a new way of logical thinking. This can take lots of time, cause lots of frustration, and makes many people want to quit before they really begin. Learning to code would be next to impossible for many children if this was the only way for them to code.

Scratch is a drag-and-drop platform for code for children 8 years of age and older. Like digital building blocks, Scratch works when children drag and drop blocks of code into a correct sequence to build a program. More visual than handwriting text-based code, Scratch allows children a much simpler form of building a program in a controlled environment. For children younger than 8 years old, Scratch Jr is even more simplified for little growing minds, using pictures rather than phrases.

What Can You Do with Scratch?

Scratch offers many project ideas for kids, from creating interactive stories to making movies. From the Scratch Ideas page, children can let their imagination and motivation take over. There are dozens of tutorials to choose from, and many ways to get started. Some examples include animating an adventure game, making music, and adding effects to interactive stories. Within the Scratch Community, users can share their projects and inspiration for endless ideas.

How Does Scratch Benefit My Child?

During the global quarantine of 2020, as we sought to work, learn, and communicate solely with digital devices, we learned more than ever before how important the internet is to our ever-changing world. And while there is plenty of professional and parental debates over screen time (and official recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics), screen time for children can be limited to smaller amounts of time while still being creative in nature. When children become creators versus consumers, many life skills can begin to develop such as:

  • Creativity - While playing with action figures and putting a puzzle together are valuable activities, it’s important to also let your children’s imagination flow freely. Creating new ideas, executing ideas, and learning from failures are all a part of learning and developing creativity around overcoming obstacles.
  • Project Management - While it may sound like a very adult life skill, project management is simply the act of planning in stages. Just as children will invent a new game, create rules for the game, divide a group into teams, and create a reward for the winner, project management is a life skill children learn from organizing their ideas. Scratch is a great tool for helping a child navigate the stages of project management.
  • Logical Thinking - Children’s minds are only focused on the present. As parents, we try to teach them the consequences of their actions by various methods. In computer programming, “if…then” conditional statements are similar to this concept. Scratch is an easy way to get kids on the fast track of thinking logically.
  • Problem Solving - Failure is one of life’s greatest teachers, but many times, frustration, disappointment, and sadness stand in our way of learning. Obstacles are a powerful gift for our children, but the ability to overcome them is necessary for resilience in the future. Learning to code gives children the opportunity to make mistakes, edit, and try again as many times as necessary to make a code work without the complications and frustrations of syntax.

Whether it’s crayons, markers, play dough, or building blocks, tools for a child’s imagination are priceless. Scratch is a digital tool that allows children’s imagination to take shape in a digital world, but it also prepares them for a world that does not yet exist. Giving our children the best headstart for their future is our collective dream as parents, and teaching them to code is an advantage that contributes to their life skills, creativity, and higher education.

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About the Author:
Some people look at the sky and see stars; others see constellations. Some people look at lines of code and see a website; Julia saw a path to empower women in building their dreams. As a (former) military wife, self-taught web developer, and lover of location independence, Julia has taught over 2,400 women to say “YES” to any WordPress request, but not only that, “YES” to themselves, and “YES” to creating life on their own terms. Empowering women and seeing others succeed is the biggest motivator for Julia. And so, she created a program to teach others the skills that allowed her to take back control of her life and start living on her own terms.
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