For today’s pre-kindergartners, learning computer coding is taking its place alongside learning their ABCs.
“We can agree that coding is important, but for children today, it will likely be essential,” said Keri Gritt, technology coordinator at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Virginia.
“We teach basic reading and writing starting in PK, so, I asked, why not teach basic coding as well?”
Gritt said that with the right resources and goals in mind, teaching coding to 4- and 5-year-olds can develop important skills and reinforce concepts already taught in an elementary classroom, such as sequencing, patterns, measurement and creative storytelling.
“It was less of an addition to what we taught, and more of a shift in how we taught it,” she said.
So, how does she do it?
Before using programs or robots, she ties sequencing and commands to physical movement by having students follow a program listed with cards on a whiteboard, starting and stopping with begin and end commands.
Students then write programs to guide a peer across the room, making turns and avoiding obstacles.
They then move on to robots.
“Especially in these early years, combining robots with coding is powerful. They make coding more engaging and visual, allowing students to see their code brought to life.”
Grittt uses Kibo and Dash robots, and Puzzlets.
“New technologies such as these robotics kits offer children a way to learn computational thinking, while still honoring that they are young children who need to play, move and explore.”
Watch the video below to learn more about teaching kindergartners to code and then subscribe to ISTE on YouTube.
Jerry Fingal is a freelance writer specializing in education. This is an updated version of a post that originally published on Oct. 29, 2019.