When should my child start programming?

Sometimes our professions lead us to extremely interesting social situations. I am sure the Doctor fraternity would agree – I have a Doctor Cousin who gets cornered by all the oldies in the family at any wedding party seeking health advice.

Doctor Uncle getting cornered :)

I have had my fair share of these moments as well – everyone knows that I use Robotics as a way to teach Science and Programming to children (ended up creating the Robotronics range for the same). One of the questions that I have got the most is: What is the right age of teaching programming to children? I have a ready made counter question - Is there a good age to ask children to apply logic?

The answer, almost every time, is - “Any age when children can comprehend or understand”. Having a 6 year old daughter myself I can vouch for a number now five years old – yes you should introduce programming to children as young as five years old.

I will talk about what makes me think that five is the right age in a bit. But let’s first see what skills are developed when your child codes or programs. Having written code for close to 20 years now – I believe a good programmer is able to visualize a complex program into smaller easily comprehendible parts or in other words developing Logical Thinking to divide a complex system to simpler sub-systems.

Further, coding also allows you to identify reusable parts of solving a problem or in other words an ability to find patterns i.e. Critical Thinking Skills.

So forget the myriad of programming languages and the complexity of coding – fundamentally programming is about Logical and Critical Thinking – the more you code, the more these skills are developed. Something to this tune has been talked about by the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg in the following video:

Further, numerous researches have shown that logical and intuitive faculties of children start developing as young as four year olds – therefore, ideally children should start writing code at that early age itself. However, there’s a catch – the usual programming languages (C, C++, Java etc) are fairly complex and most of the time the output is hardly visible.

So the real challenge is not that five year olds cannot learn the fundamentals of programming – it’s just that we do not have the tools to do so as corroborated by some of the experts:

I was kind of ignoring this issue for few years – but when Nandini turned five and wanted to code – this problem became personal. I have tried to address this problem with Robby and Bonny by reducing the programming interface to basic sequencing and the output that could be shown via the movement of these cute Robots.

Yes! With Robby and Bonny, I feel very strongly that programming can actually be taught to five year olds. And – yes! I intend to take these bots with me to the wedding parties – just in case if this question pops outJ.
When should my child start programming? When should my child start programming? Reviewed by Tarun on 22:56 Rating: 5

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