HOW young is too young to study coding or computer programming?
Experts on the subject say it is not wrong for parents to introduce coding to children as young as five years old so long as it is done with the right techniques.
For instance, coding can be taught through hands-on activities like playing board games or technical toys, which can allow children to test their creativity and logical thinking at the same time.
At 10 years of age when children should be comfortable enough with the basic concept of mathematics, they can start to learn coding via the computer.
Some parents might think learning with computers would only increase their children’s screen time and would not encourage it. But think again. Nowadays, children cannot escape from screen time, but they can maximise such times for potential gain.
Research has shown that educational screen time is linked to doing better in school and has no bad health effects.
Interestingly, in some countries like Singapore, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, coding is now an essential subject in primary schools.
In Malaysia, coding is not new in the school curriculum as it was introduced in 2016, starting with Year Six (12 years old) pupils.
The Education Ministry has also been collaborating with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to train primary school teachers in coding.
Basic coding courses in schools provide students with the knowledge to develop their own websites, apps and computer software.
Experts believe learning coding sets children up for academic success and is also a perfect platform for them to foster their entrepreneurial outlook. Coding develops a way of thinking that permits one to become a fighter and determinator by overcoming challenges, being decisive and accepting responsibility for any outcome, be it success or failure.
How can coding relate to entrepreneurial outlook? Throughout the coding journey, it is a norm to fail at first (in fact, many times) and go through many experimental attempts to execute the desired output. The value that can be gained here is resilience.
But merely knowing how to code does not guarantee a successful future. Why?
According to Jeff Hammond, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, an American market research company, the language, framework and vendors of coding are constantly changing even though the implementation patterns tend to repeat themselves in each era.
Nevertheless, with the skills gained from learning coding, they can see the differences as new technologies come out and apply what they already know in these new contexts.
All in all, encouraging children to take up coding at a very young age will not overwhelm them as long as it is done in the right way.
Nurafifah Suhaimi is Research Assistant at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.