Empowering the Next Generation: Coding for Kids

In the early months of this year, I embarked on a mission to inspire and educate young minds about the fascinating world of technology. I designed a course, aimed at teaching coding to children, and distributed it across numerous schools in Ottawa and throughout Canada. I am thrilled to announce that the course commenced on the 10th of March, with an enthusiastic group of 41 students, aged between 8 to 12 years!

Our journey so far has been both exciting and enlightening. We’ve conducted several sessions, delving into the intricacies of how the web operates, and introducing the students to HTTP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and C#. I’ve also introduced them to Microsoft Teams, demonstrating its various features and teaching them how to use it effectively. Now, they’re proficient in sharing their screens, using reactions, and raising their hands when they wish to speak! To further their understanding, I’ve initiated discussions on the contrast between local and cloud computers, paving the way for a comprehensive introduction to cloud technologies in the future.

Teaching children in this age group (8 to 12 years) has been a learning experience in itself. One key insight I’ve gained is the importance of pacing. The speed at which these young minds absorb and process information is different from adults, necessitating a slower, more deliberate approach.

I recall an instance from our first session when a student innocently asked, “What does ‘coding’ mean?” This question was a stark reminder that I needed to adjust my teaching strategy to their level of understanding.

Another lesson learned is that children can easily feel overwhelmed and lose interest if the sessions are not engaging. To counter this, I’ve found it effective to make the sessions interactive. Encouraging participation, asking questions, introducing a competitive element, and acknowledging those who contribute can significantly enhance their involvement and interest.

Moreover, it’s crucial to remember that children have a shorter attention span compared to adults. While adults may comfortably sit through a 90-minute or even a 2-hour session, children tend to lose focus after about 50 minutes. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep the sessions concise.

Lastly, children are naturally enthusiastic and eager to learn. To harness this enthusiasm, it’s essential to avoid monotonous lectures. Instead, involve them in practical tasks from the get-go. Let them experience the thrill of writing code and seeing it come to life!

I look forward to sharing more updates about this exciting journey. I hope that my experiences and insights will serve as valuable lessons for those interested in teaching coding to children.

Mohamed Derhalli

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