With the increasing use of voice assistants and robotics in various aspects of our lives, from household chores to getting medical help quickly, coding is undoubtedly the language of the future, and it is one key skill that children and youth will find useful in the digital age. Yet, the seemingly endless lines of numbers and symbols in codes look intimidating to many people. Parents looking to get their children started with programming classes may also think: “Even I can’t grasp the concepts behind coding, let alone my child.”
But coding is, in fact, not as daunting as many think it is. If anything, coding can be learnt through gameplay and be enjoyable!
Recent studies have shown that it is beneficial to introduce children and youth to coding at a young age as it can support their cognitive development. With proper coaching, kids can also learn to have fun and thrive in this new playground.
Creative problem solvers
Contrary to popular belief, coding is not all about mathematical equations. In fact, it is about solving day-to-day problems. Take, for example, our online shopping apps or even the robot vacuum present in many homes.
By learning coding, young children can develop problem-solving skills while exercising their creativity. In an article on Tufts Now, Dr Marina Bers, chairperson of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, shares that coding can help children “think in abstract, problem-solving, (and) creative ways”.
A 2019 study by Surabaya State University further supports Dr Bers’ view. The research found that introducing coding early on had a positive impact on children’s reasoning skills and helped them develop higher-level problem-solving skills.
The Amazon Cyber Robotics Challenge is a great example of how children can get started with coding and develop their cognitive skills as well as creativity. As part of the Challenge, students will learn how to program an Amazon Hercules robot to deliver a friend’s birthday present within an allotted time. Through interactive approaches, children can exercise their creativity, even as they figure out how coding can be applied in real-life situations.
Developing resilience and self-confidence
Besides problem-solving skills, youngsters can develop resilience through their coding journey. They are likely to encounter several errors known as bugs. Through a process known as debugging, where one identifies and rectifies errors in freshly written codes, they will learn to overcome setbacks and become more resilient. Debugging requires patience and focus, but when completed, the coder can feel a great sense of accomplishment.
Dr Bers believes that through coding, children will “learn how to manage frustration and find a solution, rather than giving up when things get challenging”.
In the Amazon Cyber Robotics Challenge, children and youth can easily access coding materials through online videos and workshops. With these resources, they can engage in self-directed learning and discover solutions on their own, boosting their self-confidence as well.
Increased career opportunities and prospects
Many industries, especially those in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, are automating their processes. Children and youth equipped with coding knowledge and skills will likely benefit from a wider range of career opportunities in the future.
Associate Professor Lim Tit Meng, chief executive of the Science Centre Board, believes in the importance of equipping children with STEM skills.
“Experimenting with tools and robotics now will go a long way in helping them build a future full of possibilities, inspiration and innovation for themselves,” he says.
Mr Henry Low, country manager of Amazon Singapore, believes learning coding early will give students the “head start to explore their passions”.
Amazon Singapore is committed to making STEM skills more accessible to students across the country, including children and youth from under-represented communities.
One way it is doing so is by collaborating with Science Centre Singapore to host the Amazon Cyber Robotics Challenge. The Challenge will provide students with the chance to learn coding through free workshops and an online competition. With useful resources readily available, there is no better time for children to pick up the valuable skill of coding and immerse themselves in a new playground.
Find out more and sign up for the challenge here.