Are you literate? If you’re reading this, you definitely are. But are you literate in a 21st-century sense?
“A computer science education is literacy for the 21st century,” said Mayor Bill De Blasio on the announcement for the “Computer Science for All” program at NYC public schools. In fact, people are starting earlier and earlier in the education of computer science, and it’s not without reason. Children may not grow to be full-fledged programmer overnight, but learning coding isn’t just for future computer scientists either. Coding not only challenges and teaches children logical thinking and problem solving skills, but also frees their imagination and creativity, as long as they do it in the right ways -- Dearest has sorted out a list of great ways for you to help your kid start today and have fun learning.
Daisy the Dinosaur
Daisy would probably be the most adorable dinosaur you’ve ever seen. Other than her cuteness, she can also familiarize your child with coding basics. The free, fun app has an easy drag & drop interface that children of all ages can use to animate Daisy and make her dance on their screens. By playing with Daisy, kids will intuitively come to understand the concepts of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving the challenges of the game.
If your child has outgrown the games in Daisy the Dinosaur, then Hopscotch should be the next challenge! Awarded as one of the best apps for families by Parents Magazine, Hopscotch allows your talented little ones to take an initiative and make things that they enjoy. According to the developers of this block-based language, blocks are the favored way to learn to program from Harvard and MIT to Code.org and Google. Therefore, Hopscotch is deliberately designed to help kids learn coding logic and concepts through blocks before diving into the syntax of coding languages. It serves as a blank canvas for you to create your own games, art, or stories, and even includes an online community where you can upload your work and access unlimited tutorial materials.
Designed and maintained by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a programming language and an online community where children code programs and share interactive media ranging from games, animation, to stories, and virtually anything they can create using the programming language. Instead of learning coding by staring at a computer screen on your own, in the Scratch community you can explore and experiment with other Scratch users from various backgrounds. By sharing their work in the online community, members can get feedback and learn from each other, and thus maximizing their creative and coding potentials. Meanwhile, you don’t have to be online to take advantage of Scratch’s learning opportunities -- you can download the Scratch offline editor and play with codes even without Internet access.
For more fun ways that encourage active STEM learning, check out Dearest’s favorite educational tools for children ranging from infancy to teenage! If you have suggestions, you are also more than welcome to share with us in our community of passionate educators and loving parents.