We are living in a fast changing world with radical transformations everywhere. For people to succeed in such an environment, the ability to think creatively is more important than ever. So how do we help our children develop creativity? It turns out coding is a one of the best approaches. Coding requires learning the concepts, doing hands-on projects, and bringing them into the world.
Unfortunately, learning coding doesn’t mean kids are developing creativity. In fact, most of the coding classes for kids do not deliver it. So why is coding great for creativity and why do the vast majority of the coding classes do not yet make the cut?
Coding is a creative learning process
It’s well known that kids learn best in a playful, imaginary, and engaging environment. Comparing to worksheet and flash card exercises, coding gives kids a totally different learning experience, which is more fun and offers more freedom. Learning through coding promotes the “creative learning spiral” and provides the perfect toolbox to realize the idea of learning, thinking, creating, and recreation within the spirit of sharing and playing.
Learning coding requires certain skills
Programming languages all have a set of rules and syntax. It’s very different from art where children can draw freely. However, similar to art, certain skills are required to create a better work. The fundamental skill sets are absolutely required and serve as the basic tool box for creativity. In Scratch coding for example, kids need to learn the concepts of basic command blocks for example, motion, look, and sound blocks, and practice how to use them before building their own projects. Projects won’t work if building blocks are misplaced. From this aspect, our brain needs more disciplined attention to learn coding. Once kids master the basic blocks, they can start working on their own projects. The possibilities are unlimited.
Thinking — coding needs imagination and logic thinking
After mastering the core concepts, kids are usually very excited to exercise them and build their own projects. Born with lots of creativities, our children have many ideas of their own. The hard part is logic and critical thinking. For example, let’s say they want to build a castle using LEGO blocks. Intuitively, they will know if they can do it with the number of blocks they have. More experienced kids will try to piece them together in their brain before starting to build. A similar thinking process applies in coding as well, where coding concepts are the building blocks. If the code does not run as intended, they need to figure out why, which is a great problem solving exercise.
Codings is also about sharing and fun
Kids build up their confidence and happiness through their achievements and sharing. Scratch coding, for example, has a community with millions of users, where kids can show and share their own projects. When my daughter first published her projects in the community, she felt thrilled and encouraged to get the first like from others who had looked at her project. Then, she wanted to do more, think more, and create more in a self-driven way. This forms a positive cycle for kids to develop their coding and thinking skills. When she and her friends hang out, they share and play games they have built. So much fun and joy!
Why most of coding classes/resources do not deliver the creativity
Given coding is such a great tool for creativity, why do most of the classes fail to deliver it? The reason lies in how the class is run. Because of factors such as class structure, class size, and how the teachers are told to teach it, students typically are given some tightly narrated step by step instructions to implement. Students may produce pretty complex projects, but they don’t get a chance to apply their own imagination and most kids end up building the exact same thing. In Create & Learn classes, we encourage students to use their own imagination every step of the way while applying the new concepts we teach them each time. The small class size ensures teachers they can really do it this way and every kid gets personal help on making their own creation.
Coding is a great thing for kids to learn early. Most importantly, let’s make sure they are not just following instructions and memorizing. Let’s help them think for themselves, learn how to make their imaginations come true, and build their creativity and confidence in a natural way. Coding can really help!