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Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 9:59 am
by Theladdie
I wrote in my blog about the possibilty of teaching my 4 year old daughter how to program.

Now I admit I am not going to have her coding on a pi next week but I thought I could see if there was any way (likely with games) to promote that kinda analytical thinking needed for programming.

Step one was to observe what she plays with to see if we any anything already...

Bytingidea.com

What do you guys think? Possible? Could I get my girl coding while she is learning to read and write?

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:07 pm
by scep
Interesting stuff. I personally wouldn't worry about programming (in the coding sense) at that age, but would teach / encourage computational thinking and problem solving skills as you have been doing.

Have a look at Computer Science Unplugged, which teaches loads of CS concepts without a computer. (Might be a bit old for your daughter at the moment but the concepts are solid and it's really good fun :))

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 12:22 pm
by shirro
I think about this myself. I associate literacy and numeracy with programming but that is because all the languages I have used are built on that. My 4yo isn't too bad with numbers but only knows a few letters. Kids can be good at solving problems. Watching them play computer games is very interesting. I don't know if I could teach a 4yo to program but I am damn sure one could learn if they had the right tools.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 4:39 pm
by cheery
If you can arouse her curiosity on programming, I think this should be possible. I propose you'd come up with something equivalent of storytelling. Storytelling can encourage children to learn reading. I'd think there might be something equivalent for programming. Though I think this is very very hard approach and even as a programmer I might find it a challenge.

Another approach I can think of would be toys, that provide grounds for the sort of thinking you're looking for. Probably you'd need some games and/or construction kits. http://www.tinkerforge.com/ perhaps?

Some children might not get interested about controlling computers at all! In that case just accept it and get something else for her. Saying this just in case.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:25 am
by meepmeep
On my 4th birthday, my brother and my dad made a program in BASIC on a Commodore PET which asked me my name, if it was my birthday, and how old I was.

An ASCII balloon then went up the screen and it wished me a happy 4th birthday.

This was amazing, and I had to know how it was done. My Dad very patiently went through the code with me, and I was soon writing my own little BASIC scripts on the same principle (ask question, show something with the answer).

3 decades later, here I am, a post-doc researcher in computer modelling, and spending my free time piddling about with a Pi.

So yes, go for it.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:34 am
by stevepdp
At Beeb@30 a few months ago, we discussed how games like Minecraft are introducing kids to programming ideas by way of the circuit building that's involved.

If you're familiar with the game, it might be a avenue worth investigating.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 3:24 pm
by BDHarrington7
While I was tutoring at UCSD, I found out about this program called Scratch. I don't know if it's out of reach for a 4-year old (apparently not, for that guy above, ha), but it would be a fun way to get her introduced to basic concepts: http://scratch.mit.edu/

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 8:24 pm
by Lorian
Probably needs to be 6+ to be properly engaged.

My daughter learnt in Scratch, well recommended, and I don't see why it wouldn't run on a Pi:

I learnt in Assembler, it was quite black and white in comparison (well green actually)
I have an 8K Chiclet PET (amongst others showing my age, she doesn't find that remotely engaging)

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Tue May 29, 2012 11:34 am
by frickinstein
I personally think four is a little bit too young unless she is some sort of child genius. I learnt when I was seven on my Spectrum and haven't looked back since. I know schools used to teach the good-for-logical-thinking language, logo, which I taught my kids to get them thinking.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:25 am
by phrasz
IMO 4 is too young. My oldest just turned 5 and I think it's more important for writing/spelling/math/computer usage vs coding skillz (she's able to read almost all 4-5 syllable words, and can kludge the spellings via sounds). Gain a base before looking at specifics. If the kid cannot read or write you can't program in the traditional sense...

If you do want to push traditional coding look at something that's not "coding" but rather a game: e.g. http://www.alice.org/ or http://www.kodugamelab.com/

I like Will Wright's thoughts on the topic:http://vimeo.com/22670388

I personally just put up a bukkit server and make her interact via typing, but I won't make it easy: she first has to start MC with a shell script via terminal ^_^.

Eventually she, and her siblings, will gain the familiarity needed to out code me, but for now she can game on!

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:36 pm
by mamcode
Thanks for this discussion my son is 4 years old and I gave him a kano computer to encourage him the world of computing.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 5:18 pm
by ej3-martin
If you want to introduce the Computer Science side of things to children I would recommend looking at Barefoot Computing (designed in conjunction with Computing At Schools [CAS]). I have used many of their unplugged and plugged activities with school children at age 5.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:09 am
by Wilson Drake
You might not want to start with hard core programming. You could instill the skills needed for programming in your Child.

Here's how you do it:

1- Start with simple game such as
-Daisy the Dinosaur
-Move the Turtle

The hardest part is refraining from hovering over kid's shoulder and stopping yourself from saying "no, use this function, not that one." Instead, you should allow learning the features in the apps she's using so you can say, "hey, look at what this does" or "what happens if we do this" and you will discover together where you can go from there.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:58 pm
by W. H. Heydt
It occurs to me that the 4-year-old in the original post is now a 9-year-old. Can we get an update on how the 9-year-old is doing with her Pi?

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:00 pm
by DougieLawson
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:58 pm
It occurs to me that the 4-year-old in the original post is now a 9-year-old. Can we get an update on how the 9-year-old is doing with her Pi?
Don't hold your breath waiting. The OP hasn't visited the forum since Wed 16 Apr 2014 @ 17:06.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:55 am
by Pi Chi
W. H. Heydt wrote:
Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:58 pm
It occurs to me that the 4-year-old in the original post is now a 9-year-old. Can we get an update on how the 9-year-old is doing with her Pi?
didn't notice until now. a lot of apps can trigger the analytical thinking these days. i have nephews and nieces that like to spend time watching cartoons over tablets but there are also some who have a flavor for analytical problem solving. if she's that kind, it wouldn't be too hard to put her on track.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:00 pm
by neilakos
4 does seem waaay too early, but games like Minecraft are supposedly helping with learning code, so i guess around 8-9 is a good time to teach

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:57 pm
by rpdom
neilakos wrote:
Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:00 pm
4 does seem waaay too early, but games like Minecraft are supposedly helping with learning code, so i guess around 8-9 is a good time to teach
The Code Club that I help run is usually for 9-11 year-olds, but we have had one (barely) 8 year old join and she is doing really well.

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:06 am
by Adrianfu
Our 4 year old was typing in programs from magazines at 4 using a C64. Not exactly learning to code but it got him into computer work in adult life. Currently runs his own computer business.

Adrian

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:17 pm
by W. H. Heydt
neilakos wrote:
Tue Aug 22, 2017 2:00 pm
4 does seem waaay too early, but games like Minecraft are supposedly helping with learning code, so i guess around 8-9 is a good time to teach
Last Summer (2016) I worked with my then 8-year-old grandson going through a tutorial workbook on Scratch. He picked up enough to do some work with Scratch on his own. As a result of that experience, I would put the lower limit for a typical kid learning Scratch in the 6 to 7 range.

There will always be exceptions. If you find a Mozart of computing, by all means start her out at 4, or even younger. (In that situation, the question will not be "Can I...", but "Where can I find enough material to keep this child busy?")

Re: Can I Teach my 4 Year Old to Program?

Posted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:45 pm
by mikel543
The Cbeebies app on Android used to have a Nina and the Neurons game which teaches the basics, I'm guessing its probably still there. You have to navigate a robot round and obstacle course by giving it sequences of instructions. My daughter loved playing it when she was that age.