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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Teach 1st Graders to Program?

Here's an interesting idea being in tried in the small country of Estonia - getting the principles and concepts related to computer programming to first graders.  One does not need to learn an actual language like Python, Java, or C++, but certainly the concepts can be picked up, even by six year olds.  There are so many ways of doing this, to teach them about how a computer does not think and instead needs to be told every small instruction.  Teachers can make a variety of games for young children to play, and the way young minds work, they will begin to learn to think like a programmer, and over time as they progress through elementary school simple commands and syntax can be added slowly but surely.  At some point visual programming languages such as Scratch and Starlogo can be used, then move them into a simple language like Netlogo, and eventually to more advanced languages if they choose.  The point is this is a powerful way to teach 21st century skills, remove the fear from computers, programming and technology in general, learn logical thinking and improve problem solving skills over an extended time.  Just like learning a foreign language is easiest when young, I am fairly certain the same is true for a computer language.

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