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Noggin: Yes, Your Kid Can Code!

Posted By KinderLab Christina On March 2, 2020 in Media Coverage

In this Noggin article, our co-founder and Chief Scientist, Dr. Marina Umanschi Bers, describes that coding isn’t just a STEM skill; it’s about playgrounds and literacy. 

The article reads in part:

“Coding is like a playground because it’s the ability to create anything you want,” Dr. Bers said, adding that “playgrounds” support open-ended creative play, as well as social interactions, language development, and problem solving. 

She contrasts “playgrounds” and “playpens,” which are more limited, giving children just one way to play and just one “right answer.”

Open-ended, creative play with “playground” technologies — like ScratchJr and KIBO fuels healthy early development and turns kids into creative problem solvers. 

“When little children are learning how to read and write, they are learning to express themselves. It really empowers individuals because reading and writing is associated with thinking. The same is true for coding. Learning how to code engages children in problem solving, but also in using the power of computation to create new kinds of things and new kinds of projects and think in abstract, logical ways.”

Dr. Bers says that when families bring storytelling into coding, it becomes more fun and engaging for all kids, and especially for girls. 

“Somehow coding has been co-opted by problem solving,” she said. She recommends that parents instead ask their kids questions that help them think about coding as storytelling, such as “What question do you have?” or “What stories do you want to tell?”

“In technological playgrounds, children have ideas…They can carry out those ideas.”

8 Ways Parents Can Turn Coding and Robots into Playgrounds and Literacy for Kids

Dr. Bers shared 8 on-screen and off-screen ways parents can transform coding and robotics into playgrounds and literacy for their children. 

1) Play with “cause and effect.”
2) Play with sequence.
3) Play with patterns.
4) Give your kids access to developmentally appropriate programming tools like ScratchJr or KIBO
5) Remember that there are “playground” robots and “playpen” robots. Nudge your child toward the ones that are “playgrounds.”
6) Remember that not all robots look like steampunk spaceships!
7) Spot the robots!
8) Make sure kids are in control!

Read the full article.