School IT Blog

Should 5-year-olds Really Be Coding?

Mon 29 September, 2014

It is likely that someone at your primary school is worrying about how to teach five year olds coding, but are they wasting their time? What exactly is the point? Is time better spent on more "useful" subjects?

Computers evolve quickly, often faster than consumers can cope with and most definitely faster than it takes the cogs of educational progress to start turning. According to this article by Jane Wakefield on the BBC Website, some people are already predicting that computers will be soon able to write their own programs and that coding will move away from the complex languages that are used now, toward simple conversational language. They are even questioning the point of teaching programming to children. So, what does that mean for your school, as you start to teach programming?

Here are our thoughts:

Computing should remain a broad subject.

The new programmes of study for computing seem only to require a school to teach programming, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this will be enough. For your students to be fully prepared for the employment market they need to have a broad range of experience in the subject of computing. They must still learn to produce digital music, create digital literature, use spreadsheets etc. Otherwise you risk negating important skills and alienating learners.

Students must become producers.

Most children in your school will already be consumers of computing, but they need to see computing as something that can serve them, can empower their creativity and can change their world. We need to help them move from consumer to creator. This means, seeing coding as a weapon in a whole arsenal of tools, which exist to enhance and inspire their learning.

Soft skills are king.

We must ensure that at the heart of every computing lesson, we are teaching children how to use technology to solve problems and to design solutions. Whatever the programming language du jour is in twenty years, the ability to problem solve, to adapt and to be creative will still ensure a student becomes an employable person.

Enjoyment is the key.

However we teach computing to children, we must ensure that it is still fun. Let children, be children and don't put them off by boring them with dry technical lessons. Whatever we want our students to love, we must love first ourselves. This means that we must be confident in what we are teaching and creative in how we teach it. Ensure that your school makes coding easy to teach, by planning creatively, training your teachers well and empowering your students to help!

And remember there are people who can help.

Soft Egg provide an impartial and free computing consultation process to help you to create a vision for computing in your school, target set for the year ahead and think about how you can achieve those targets. Book our Education Consultant to come and deliver some bespoke CPD to empower your staff team!