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Why Teach Computer Coding and Programming to K-5 Students?

Computer science drives innovation in the U.S. economy and society. Despite growing demand for jobs in the field, it remains marginalized throughout the U.S. K-12 education system. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' from 2012 to 2022, the field of computer science is projected to grow 22%, which is much faster than average. As a result, computer software, programming and coding are growing fields and allows for a great job outlook as well as entrepreneurial potential. As such, coding skills are incredibly useful for today’s students to learn — but it’s not just due to job prospects.

Computer programming and coding can help kids develop vital problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. It also encourages kids to become creators and not simply consumers of technology. Kids in elementary grades actually find programming and coding to be very engaging and a fun use of their time. And while “engaging and fun” are nice, what really matters are the lasting benefits of building essential skill and knowledge sets for supporting lifelong success. Research has found that in addition to increasing critical-thinking and problem-solving, coding and programming can also have a positive impact on these vital skills:

  • Persistence or "grit"

  • Collaboration

  • Complex communication

  • Creativity and content creation

  • Entrepreneurship

  • Computational thinking

There is growing evidence that some elements of computer programming also positively support the knowledge and skills of pre-readers. Elements like:

  1. Sequence

  2. The concept of code (written language)

  3. Cause and effect

  4. Counting

  5. Planning

  6. Left-to-right reading

  7. Problem solving

Today there are many resources for kids to learn code. This curated list of Cool Coding Apps and Websites for Kids from Common Sense Media is a great place to start. This list offers ways to jumpstart a coding adventure. Teaching everything from simple commands to complex programs, coding apps and websites come in a range of formats designed for different ages and abilities.

Heartland AEA provides services for those interested in integrating technology in all areas of instruction as aligned with the 21st century skills sets of the Iowa Core. For more information or questions, contact the Instructional Technology Consultant who serves your district.

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