It's a generally accepted fact that our world is becoming more computer dependant everyday. There are very few careers that don't require some level of computer literacy, so, teaching kids to code is surely a good idea.
The reality that children are becoming less able to write proper english, is a hot topic. The Project reported recently that the instances of children using "text speak" in Naplan exams had increased considerably since 2012.
Although, in principle I understand that loosing literacy is a concern, the uptake of text speak could be argued as a positive due to the increase in writing and reading that has come as part of social media. Nowadays, I very rarely pick up and pen and paper to write. The value of handwriting is decreasing as we become more dependant upon apps to help us run our lives. Even our to-do lists are stored in the cloud. Imagine how much you could do if you could write these apps yourself. Surely it would be helpful to our children if they had the skills write these apps.
I've spoken to some parents about this and it seems to be general consensus that it would be a waste of time unless their kids grew up to be software engineers! I strongly disagree. I have endless examples of times where I wished that I could code.
Recently, acting as client side project manager for Carsoffer.com.au. I wished I could code. The project was huge, we were trying to build a website, 3 mobile apps and a back end CRM for car dealers. Our budget was limited and we were outsourcing most of the build with only limited technical knowledge in-house. There I was, with no real training, trying to navigate through choosing a development agency and a design agency.
The biggest problem I had was understanding which providers were taking me for a ride and which ones were submitting reasonable quotes. In the end, I had to hire a technical consultant to help me. If I'd known how to code then I could've saved both time and money because I would have been able to select a development agency myself.
Again. when the project was well underway I discovered responsive design and i wished I could code! I became so frustrated by quotes that ranged for $400 to quite literally $7000 and estimated times of between 2 days and 2 months! Eventually, my frustration drove me to learn basic html so I would at least know what was reasonable. I didn't want to code the front end of what was a highly complex website, I did however need to know enough about mark-up coding to make a good decision.
There are a number of online resources with fun drag and drop interfaces that will teach your kids to code. My favourite is resource is Code Academy. Below are a 20 other resources you can use to introduce and teach children about coding and programming:
1. KidsRuby: Makes is easy to learn to code.
2. MIT App Inventor: Probably more for school aged children and above.
3. Alice: an introduction to creating simple animated movies and video games through simple object-oriented programming.
4. Scratch: a pretty cool way to start programming movies, games and interactive stories. Suitable for 8 and up.
5. Kodu. A visual programming language for pc.
6. Teaching Kids Programming: a non-profit organization whose website is filled with resources to teach or learn to code from 10 years old and up.
7. Move the Turtle: App for kids 5 and over.
8. Hopscotch: Another brilliant app (apps are easy and visual for young learners!).
9. Hakitzu Elite: Robot Hackers: A combat game teaches the basics of coding while battling robots.
10. Daisy the dinosaur: An easy visual app for all ages, drag and drop still teaches the principles of programming!
11. Cargo-Bot: A puzzle game created entirely on iPad, for all ages.
12. Robot Turtles: Kids love this board game (3-8 year old), a simple game that sneaks in coding basics. A Kickstarter success!
13. Primo: Another Kickstarter must for 4-7 year olds, "Primo is a playful physical programming interface that teaches children programming logic without the need for literacy"
14. Sphero: An amazing ball robot you can program and interact with in many many many different ways, whether you are a small child or an adult. A must-see web site for all the details.
15. Raspberry-Pi: A tiny card sized computer that plugs into a tv and can be used for electronics projects.
16. Lego Mindstorms: Probably the first toys to teach programming basics ever.
17. Terrapin Logo: A language that enables you to learn by doing. They also have products that can be used to teach using their language.
18. Hello Ruby: A book that teaches programming skills through activities as well as stories.
19. Hello World!: Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners: Another good book to learn at whatever age.
20. Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games: A book in quite a series to learn different principles within programming.