– Children can learn to program from the age of six. But you need to understand that this is not writing code, but creating algorithms, that is, instructions for solving specific problems, says Alexander Sychev, a partner at the Digital Economy League. – There are special tools online that allow you to create algorithms in a playful way. They work like this: the child invents various instructions, for example, how to go to the right or to the left of a fairy-tale character. Gradually, the game becomes more complicated – the character needs not only to move, but also to go around the obstacle. As a result, the child sees connections between objects and manages interdependent processes. When this stage is passed, he can move on to visual algorithmic languages, such as Scratch and Construct. They are quite simple, as a rule, it is with them that everyone begins to learn programming and IT in general.
According to Sychev, online courses or specialized IT schools will help to understand the basics of information technology. Children attend such institutions once a week and get acquainted with several disciplines at once: in addition to programming, they study design, 3D modeling, and game development. The courses are designed to captivate children, thanks to which they spend even their free time not on other people’s games, but on creating their own.
Many people think that you need math to start programming.
– It’s not mandatory. To start diving into programming, logical thinking and understanding the sequence of processes are most important, says Alexander Sychev. – However, if in the future the child decides to develop a career in IT, knowledge of mathematics, of course, will accelerate career growth. People who are bad at math and at the same time work in IT face difficulties. They solve some problems much longer than those who are well versed in this science.
And what to read on the subject?
Strangely, nothing. For children, programming books are useless, they cannot captivate like a game. Online platforms for programming in the form of a game cope with this task more successfully.
– As first programming languages, it is better to choose the logical ones, which allow you to build the logic of actions with loops and conditions through simple commands. These are the languages offered by online platforms, advises the expert. – Then you can move on to visual languages, for example, the aforementioned Scratch or Construct. They are similar, but differ in the programming principle. With the help of it, the child will learn to look at the processes from different angles and will see many ways to build logic. Such tasks develop flexibility of thinking.
We familiarize ourselves with the languages, what’s next?
The next step is to test platforms for developing mobile applications.
– Children still spend a lot of time with smartphones: it will be more useful to create applications with their help, rather than play and communicate, – explains Alexander Sychev. – Such exercises are more difficult than Scratch or Construct, but the principle is the same. Children are able to quickly develop their own programs and games, which spark their interest and motivate them to continue.
After that, you should move to the classic programming languages that are used in real sites and applications. One of the simplest is Python. The child learns the basics in two or three hours.
By the way, if the game moment is more important for children, then adolescents are motivated to study programming by real projects, for example, creating websites in the Tilda and Wix builders. If parents work in IT, they can assign real practical tasks to the child. And if the tasks are paid, then the child will understand that programming is a good option for a profession.
– Even if in the future the child does not become an IT specialist, programming will help develop skills that are useful in other areas, – says Sychev. – First of all, logical thinking, the ability to put information “on the shelves”, to separate the important from the unimportant. And this, in turn, will make it easier to see promising options and methods for achieving the goal and focus on the result.
According to Alexander Sychev, working with code teaches you not to give up when you don’t get results the first time. Programming teaches a child to try different strategies to succeed. This mindset spills over into other areas of life, helping you to work hard and not be afraid of failure.