“Coding is the language of the future, and every girl should learn it.”
– Reshma Saujani
Are you looking for ways to get your kids interested in computer science? Here’s the good news: You don’t have to wait until they are in high school before exposing them to programming. Matter of fact, you can start them off fairly young. We’ve written on this subject before, but we thought you guys would appreciate a list dedicated to doing just that. Start them off with a basic logic game and move on up to a full-fledged Python developer. This list is ordered by age/experience level, so you should be able to get a good idea of where to start.
This board book is the perfect place to start teaching your child the basics of computer science and logic. I highly recommend this book for children ages 4 to 7. They’ll learn the basics of sequences, debugging, and even algorithms through games and mazes. It truly is wonderful.
My First Coding and Computer Kit
If you are tired of your child constantly staring at a screen then this kit will be a blessing. The kit is filled with over thirty activities that reinforce the basics of computer science. However, your child might need to be closer to 7 or 8 before truly utilizing this kit. This is not recommended for advanced older children.
Puzzle games are fun ways to challenge your child’s imagination and get them thinking like an engineer. Toy manufacturer ThinkFun is always releasing fantastic products that help children exercise their brains. Code Master is a game increasingly ramps up the difficulty, while your child plans and reasons their way to successfully completing each level.
For Ages 8 to 12
BitsBox Coding Subscription Box
For kids that can read, Bitsbox is a wonderful learning tool that gets delivered every month. The coding system teaches children who have never coded before. Each box focuses on a new concept that includes a guide for grownups to follow along. The most important thing here is to make sure your child can read before purchasing.
Scratch Programming For Beginners
Scratch is a simple coding language designed as a teaching tool for the basic concepts of programming. Think of it as a building block to reinforce and introduce the fundamentals before tackling larger more complex mathematical algorithms. This newer guide is filled with visuals to help illustrate the main points without children having to read a large wall of text. Highly recommend assisting your child with this book, especially if they are younger. Scratch is free, but you will need a keyboard and internet to download the program.
This is another Scratch programming book, but this one is a little more advanced than the average beginner book. If your child has the fundamentals to programming down and is closer to pre-teen maturity then I recommend purchasing a copy. Also, if they’ve finished Scratch Programming for Beginners this might be worth picking up as an extra resource.
This book is perfect for kids that tend to think programming is boring. I don’t recommend it as a starter book, but rather a wonderful supplement to one of the Scratch books listed above. I’m a big fan of teaching coding while keeping it entertaining. It’s how I learn, but everyone is different. Every concept in this book is taught by coding a simple game.
A second alternative to Python For Kids is Coding For Kids. Just like the former book, Coding For Kids also uses the free to download Python language. While I feel both books are very similar, I would encourage you to look through the preview pages and see which version best suits your child’s reading ability. This book can be used by absolute beginners as well.
For Ages 12 and up
Hello World! is perfect for older kids and young teens that have finished Scratch or want to start with Python programming. We’ve discussed Python above, and honestly, I can’t recommend it enough as a starting language. This book starts with basic concepts and touches on some advanced topics as kids begin to get serious with coding.
Python Crash Course is a fantastic book for teenagers that want to get started coding as quickly as possible. If your child has a short attention span or just likes to dive down into a subject or hobby then look no further, Python Crash Course will give them a hands-on, non-kiddy serious approach to Python and the fundamentals of programming.
The final book on this list is for teenagers (and adults), that have a solid grasp on the fundamentals of Python. At this point, your child is probably using online apps, Youtube, highschool classes, social media, and their own imagination to continue their coding journey. However, do not overlook an advanced book like Serious Python. The more practice they get, the better they’ll be at sharpening their skills.
If you are a family that loves coding and having fun then take a break from screens and play the classic Robo Rally. Created by Richard Garfield who brought us Magic: The Gathering, this board game will challenge your family to strategically plan the moves of robots as they race for dominance. Key concepts taught in this game include sequencing and why debugging is so important. Who doesn’t want to program robots in an epic race of survival?