My daughter attends her Primary School and we as parents have been notified that moving into the next term they are introducing coding skills into the curriculum. This makes me very happy as I have on many occasions taught my awesome 6 year old a few little bits of code language as she is always curious just what her dad does.
Getting more kids into code from my point of view is a cause of celebration for the future of our technology industry. Teaching coding skills to young children is a long-term solution as it fills the skills gap for technology jobs in the near future.
The roadmap for the new curriculum was originally published in 2013, but has taken much time to introduce every school in the UK and is still being implemented in many schools in the future. Some parents will be surprised to when their child comes home from school and starts talking about debugging, Boolean logic and algorithms. But don’t despair schools are there to help parents that don’t know anything about code, after all we are here to also help our children.
There is a guide to what your children will be learning in schools which I will include later on in this article, it will cover each age group and what to expect.
A shake up of computer studies in schools was trialled for a while after criticism from ministers and technology companies of the existing ICT curriculum. The education secretary at the time Michael Gove outlined political changes.
This hones in directly at the number of complaints at the time from tech companies in the UK for not being able to produce enough graduates to fill job roles. The new curriculum included technology giants Google, Microsoft and the Royal Academy of engineering being involved in the new curriculum to be introduced into schools.
There are three distinct stages for the new computing curriculum:
Key Stage 1 (5-6 year-olds): Children will be learning what algorithms are, which will not always involve computers. When explained as “a set of instructions” teachers may illustrate the idea using recipes, or by breaking down the steps of children’s morning routines. But they will also be creating and debugging simple programs of their own, developing logical reasoning skills and taking their first steps in using devices to “create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content”.
Key Stage 2 (7-11 year-olds): Slightly older primary-school children will be creating and debugging more complicated programs with specific goals and getting to grips with concepts including variables and “sequence, selection, and repetition in programs”. They will still be developing their logical reasoning skills and learning to use websites and other internet services. And there will be more practice at using devices for collecting, analysing and presenting back data and information.
Key Stage 3 (11-14 year-olds): Once children enter senior school they will be using two or more programming languages – “at least one of which is textual” – to create their own programs. Schools and teachers will be free to choose the specific languages and coding tools. Pupils will be learning simple Boolean logic (the AND, OR and NOT operators, for example), working with binary numbers, and studying how computer hardware and software work together.
At all these levels, children will also be studying computer and internet safety, including how to report concerns about “content or contact” online. The full breakdown of the changes can be found here.
Well you maybe a coder or not, but it doesn’t matter. One common ground every child needs when learning any subject is for you to be interested as a parent. Chances are you may learn something along the way and actually enjoy the time spent learning code with your child.
Ask your children’s teacher how they are doing in their studies, and what they have been learning recently, so even if your child is shy about learning in front of you, you can surprise them by actually knowing what they are up to at school. It may help your child to open up.
There are many other way to encourage your child to learn including some sites and apps such as Tynker , Hopscotch , and ScratchJr . There are literally loads of resource online that you can use with your child.
As daunting as it may seem the use of apps and online coding sites built for children, will help both you and your child have fun with and learn together. You never know you child may be the next big technology entrepreneur in the years to come.