Programming for Kids: What Are the Best Programming Languages for Kids and Beginners?
As technology plays more and more important role in our daily lives, mastering key computer programming skills is no longer just an important, forward-thinking decision for progressive individuals, but rather a necessity for adults and kids alike. In fact, programming for high school kids is increasingly becoming a hot topic.
Today, even elementary school kids can learn the basics of coding. Acquiring these skills at a tender age can greatly influence their overall development. In fact, studies have shown that coding strengthens a student’s other academic areas like reading, math, and spelling.
Kids who master programming and coding languages will transform into better problem solvers, and will be capable of developing sound analytical and deductive reasoning skills and greater quest for knowledge.
Software is the language of the moment, and teaching kids how to program at a younger age will certainly come in handy in their future life.
That said, it is important to note that not all programming languages are the same. With so many languages out there, it can be tricky choosing the best ones for kids or beginners.
The main types of programming languages
- Compiled languages – These are programming languages that have to be fully written out before running; meaning, they cannot be processed line-by-line like other programming languages. Ideally, compiled languages are much harder to learn since they cannot be edited or tested. Examples of compiled programming languages include C++ and BASIC.
Programming languages can also be broken down into two categories:
- Procedural programming – Without exaggeration, this is the core of all programming languages. They are useful for understanding how computers think with structures like “if this, then that.” An example of procedural programming language is Python.
- Object-oriented programming – These are the programming languages used by professional programmers. They come with several different objects (which are like mini-programs) interacting simultaneously with each other. Object-oriented programming languages are complex and can be confusing to follow. It is recommended that you introduce your kid these languages after mastering procedural programming languages. An example of an object-oriented programming language is Java.
What Coursera platform provides
Courses – the site has over 1600 courses in 700 topics. 40 percent of these courses are focused on business, management, computer science, and data science.
Foreign languages – Coursera provides lectures in 8 different courses including English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, etc.
Course types – The platform offers a range of specializations like business lectures, technical courses, and even humanity and biological classes
Instructors – Coursera tutors and course creates are experienced professionals from around the world. They are either university professors or professionals who work at reputable global institutions. The platform has over 4,000 tutors and course instructors.
So, what makes the best programming language for kids?
If you have spent time programming, either as a hobby or professionally, you have probably tried out a few programming languages. But the first programming language you learn will be special; and it will stick with you forever. So, how do you choose the best programming language to learn?
Start by choosing your goals
Basically, computer programming is the art of directing a computer to perform tasks. There are different kinds of programs that you can build. Before choosing a programming language to learn, it is important that you identify a career path that you might be interested in taking as a computer programmer. Here are some considerations:
- Website development ( full-stack, front-end, or back-end)
- App developer (Android or iOS)
- PC game developer
- Financial services
- Software developer
- Data management
Top 9 programming languages for kids and beginners
Java is popularly known as the official language for developing Android application. This object-oriented language is quite easy to learn and developers using this programming language have tens of open source libraries to access and choose from.
For kids and beginners, the greatest motivation for learning Java programming language is learning how to build Minecraft on their own. Released in 2011, Minecraft kids from all over the world have fallen in love with this app. Kids can capitalize on their love for Minecraft to learn how to use logic in Java and solve different kinds of problems using this programming language.
Stability, scalability, high adaptivity, special software, graphical interfaces, perfect for developing applications and game engines.
Best online Java courses for kids:
Swift is definitely one of the best programming languages for kids and beginners. This is because this programming language comes with advanced features while requiring minimal coding. Additionally, it comes with a guideline that makes it easy for kids and beginners to convert Swift into game-like behavior. The language also allows development with simple drag-and-drop codes.
Swift features: Drag –and-drop code, free to download, best for developing applications on Apple platform.
Best online Swift courses:
Alice is a free 3D tool that is designed to teach the concepts of object-oriented programming. Kids can learn how to program with Alice by creating games or animations in 1 and 3-D models as well as camera motions using the building blocks approach. Additionally, Alice’s easy play button coupled with the drag-and-drop interface makes it extremely easy for kids and beginners to learn this programming language. Overall, Alice is an excellent programming language for kids who want to learn coding in a block-based virtual environment.
Alice’s features: drag-and-drop coding, object-oriented programming, block-based visual environment.
Online Alice courses:
4. Scratch 3.0
Scratch 3.0 is a great programming language that introduces kids to coding foundations. This language comes with a visual coding environment that makes it possible for users to develop games, applications, and characters with a drag-and-drop code blocks. Scratch is supplemented by beginner tutorials. It also comes with a building-block visual interface, and it can be used even offline. All these make Scratch one of the best programming languages for kids.
Scratch features: Free to download, block-style storytelling, comes with beginner tutorials, building-block visual interface, kid-friendly, can be used offline.
Top online scratch courses:
Blocky is a direct competitor of Scratch. Just like Scratch, it utilizes the same interlocking building blocks to develop applications. Its visual block function makes it easier for kids to master coding. Blocky is the backbone of the Android application Inventor, providing kids with a robust environment for kids to learn how to code.
Blocky features: comes with interlocking building blocks, the code is visible on the coder’s screen, capable of outputting the code in different programming languages, can switch programming languages, the building block for Android App Inventor, perfect for teaching coding to kids of all age groups.
C++ considered the foundation of most programming languages. It has the capability for developing enterprise applications. C++ utilizes a compiler-based approach that is quite simple yet very effective for developing applications. Thanks C++ versatility, you can use it for developing applications on multiple platforms.
C++ features: Great for building applications that can run locally on machines, cross-platform game development, ideal for developing Windows desktop applications.
Best online C++ courses:
There is no doubt that Python is one of the easiest coding languages to learn. This is because Python only requires a few code lines to become operational, and this makes it relatively easier for beginners like kids to learn and use for creating applications.
Python is a versatile programming language that is commonly used in highly-advanced fields such as Cyber security and Artificial Intelligence. It can also be used for creating numeric and scientific computing programs, video games, and web frameworks.
Python features: A versatile programming language with simple syntax, plenty of beginner books and tutorials, and Pygame toolkit.
Online Python courses:
Another object-oriented programming language with clear syntax, Ruby follows the Principle of Least Astonishment (POLA) philosophy. Ruby is an ideal programming language for kids and beginners because it is designed to make coding as simple and uncomplicated as possible. Better still, Ruby is quite natural, consistent, and easy to master and remember.
Ruby features: A case-sensitive, object-oriented, singleton method with expressive features, naming conventions, dynamic typing, statement delimiters, portable, duck typing, and exception handling.
Online Ruby courses:
Best programming languages for kids: Final thoughts
There is no doubt that the computer programming can seem daunting. Many give up at the first steps because they do not understand the terminology. For kids, however, it is important that they start their programming journey on the right footing. Introducing them to programming languages that are either too complex or out of line with their interests can put them off coding for their rest of their lives.
Thankfully, choosing the best programming languages for kids is not too difficult. All you need to do is identify a language that will align with your child’s aspirations and then narrowing down to a handful of languages. Sign up with the courses attached to these programs and get your kid started on their coding journey today.