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Top 15 Kids’ Coding Languages 2020

Have you ever thought about teaching your child how to code? Here are the top kids’ coding languages perfect for starting your child’s coding journey.

Why Coding?

Coding is fast becoming a very important skill in the digital economy and more jobs, careers and entrepreneurship opportunities are opening up for those who can code and build software systems, apps and games. It is also becoming increasingly important for those in several other professions to understand the digital aspects of their workspace. Coding skills are today vital to succeed in the digital workplace.

Learning to code will pay rich dividends

Even if you don't intend to be a computer programmer when you grow up, learning how to code is still an awesome skill to have. In today's world, technology is everywhere! Knowing how to code will help you understand how apps, games, and websites really work behind the scenes.
Coding teaches you how to think logically and solve problems step-by-step. These skills are great for any job or task you take on in life, not just coding itself. When you code, you learn how to break down big, complicated problems into smaller, manageable pieces. This makes it easier to tackle tough challenges.
No matter what you dream job is - artist, scientist, business owner, or something else - the problem-solving skills you gain from coding will give you a huge advantage. As technology keeps growing and changing, being code-savvy will help you adapt and stay ahead of the curve. Coding helps you become a creative thinker who can invent new solutions for the future's challenges and opportunities.

Coding in today's era of AI

The future of work and jobs is trending more toward more AI and automation. Experts are predicting that the kids of today will likely be employed in jobs that do not exist today.
So does my child really need to learn to code? If you thought that AI systems like GPT have made "English" to be the programming language, think again. While natural language interfaces are becoming more prevalent, understanding the fundamentals of coding logic and computational thinking will remain invaluable skills
Even as AI language models advance, learning to code from an early age still provides numerous benefits that go beyond just writing code itself. The key reasons why coding education remains crucial is that it imparts problem solving and logical thinking, creativity and self-expression, and most importantly computational thinking, a mindset for formulating problems that machines can assist with. Finally, because technology will continue evolving rapidly. Having a grasp of how software works under the hood future-proofs kids' skill sets and "future-proof" them.
So while AI language models may make coding more accessible, the fundamentals of coding logic, problem-solving, and computational thinking will remain indispensable skills to cultivate from an early age.

What types of programming languages are available for my child?

There are two main flavors of programming languages: block-based and text-based.
Block-based programming languages use visual blocks or puzzles that represent code instructions. These blocks can be dragged, dropped, and snapped together to create programs and applications.
Text-based programming languages require writing lines of code following strict syntax rules. These are the languages used by professional programmers in industry.

Block-based programming languages

Popular examples of block-based languages include Scratch, Blockly, Minecraft Education Edition, TinkerCAD, and Code.org courses.
Block-based languages are designed to be beginner-friendly and introduce programming concepts through an intuitive visual interface. They eliminate syntax errors and allow kids to focus on logic and problem-solving. The visual nature makes it easier to grasp programming fundamentals without getting bogged down in complex text-based syntax initially.
However, block-based languages have limitations in terms of debugging capabilities and advanced coding features. They are primarily meant as an introductory tool before transitioning to text-based languages

Textual programming languages

Some widely-used text-based languages include Java, Python, Javascript, and C++.
While text-based languages have a steeper learning curve, they offer full flexibility, debugging capabilities, and no limitations on what can be built. Learning a text-based language is crucial for developing comprehensive coding skills and pursuing computer science or software engineering careers.

Choosing your child's first coding language

When choosing the first coding language for your child, there are a few key factors to consider.
For younger children (around ages 5-7) with no prior coding experience, a block-based visual language like Scratch is often the best starting point. Scratch allows kids to drag and drop code blocks, making it easy to grasp basic programming concepts without dealing with syntax.
For older children (ages 8+) or those with some prior exposure to coding, a text-based language like Python may be more appropriate. Python has a relatively simple and readable syntax compared to many other languages, making it an excellent transition from block-based coding.

Matching your child's interests with the programming language

Consider your child's interests and goals. If they are drawn to game development, starting with Scratch and moving onto platforms like GameMaker will be suitable. If web development piques their curiosity, starting with HTML/CSS alongside JavaScript could be engaging. If they like creating and have a keen eye for geometry, a language like TinkerCAD would be suitable (which offers both block-based and text-based interfaces)
Many students often start with a block-based language (like Scratch) when they are young and later transition to a text-based language like Python. This transition from block-based to text-based coding can sometimes be challenging, but it helps students build resilience, adaptability, and a deeper understanding of programming concepts through hands-on problem-solving.

Is the transition from block-based to text languages challenging?

The transition from block-based to text-based coding can be difficult for several reasons.
Text-based coding languages have strict syntax rules that must be followed, including proper use of brackets, parentheses, colons, semicolons, and keywords. This can be overwhelming for beginners who are used to the more intuitive drag-and-drop nature of block-based coding.
In block-based coding, syntax errors are virtually eliminated since the blocks can only be connected in valid ways. However, in text-based coding, even a small typo or missing character can cause errors that need to be debugged, which requires a deeper understanding of the language's syntax and structure.
Block-based coding is more visual and concrete, with each block representing a specific action or concept. Text-based coding, on the other hand, requires a higher level of abstraction and the ability to mentally translate written code into the desired actions or outcomes.
In text-based coding, students need to memorize syntax rules, keywords, and language-specific constructs, which can be challenging, especially for younger learners. Block-based coding minimizes the need for memorization, as the blocks provide visual cues and guidance.
Block-based coding environments often provide immediate visual feedback, making it easier for beginners to understand the effects of their code. With text-based coding, the feedback may not be as immediate or intuitive, which can be frustrating for those transitioning from block-based coding.
Notwithstanding all the above considerations, it is recommended to gradually introduce text-based coding concepts alongside block-based coding, using tools that allow students to see the text-based code equivalent of their block-based programs. This scaffolding approach can help students build confidence and understanding before fully transitioning to text-based coding.
Now without further ado, here is the list of top kids coding languages!

Top 15 Kids Coding Languages

1. Scratch

Scratch is a block-based visual programming language developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. It is one of the first languages developed exclusively for kids. Coding was once considered a geeky activity and Scratch was developed with the vision of creating non-geek coders. Scratch programs are specifically referred to as projects since they foster creativity and artistic skills in addition to logical and analytical thinking. Kids can add sounds, music, art and more to their Scratch projects. Projects can be translated into 70+ languages, and Scratch is used in most parts of the world. Scratch Jr is an app available for kids 4-7.
Kodeclik offers beginning as well as advanced Scratch coding classes.

2. TinkerCAD

TinkerCAD is a free, online 3D modeling program that allows kids to design and create digital 3D models. It uses a simple, block-based interface that makes it easy for beginners to learn and create 3D objects, which can then be 3D printed or exported as files. TinkerCAD is a great way to introduce kids to computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D modeling concepts.
Checkout Kodeclik's TinkerCAD coding classes.

3. Snap!

Snap! is a visual, drag-and-drop programming language based on Scratch but with more advanced features. It allows kids to create interactive stories, games, and animations while learning fundamental programming concepts like loops, variables, and conditional statements. Snap! also supports the creation of custom blocks, making it a powerful tool for more advanced projec ts.

4. Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft Education Edition is a free programming environment that can be used to create mods for Minecraft. It offers a block based as well as a text based option to write code and develop mods. The text based option supports programming in Python and JavaScript. It comes with an integrated simulator that allows the users to test their mods within a Minecraft environment.
Kodeclik offers Minecraft modding classes using block as well as Python and JavaScript coding.

5. Alice

Alice is a 3D programming environment designed to teach students object-oriented programming concepts. It uses a drag-and-drop interface to create animations, stories, and games by manipulating 3D objects and characters. Alice provides a gentle introduction to programming concepts like objects, methods, and events, making it a valuable tool for kids interested in computer science and game development.

6. Blockly

Blockly is an intuitive and visual way of coding developed by Google. It provides blocks of code to represent various coding concepts like logical expressions, loops, variables and so on. You can view Blockly as a generalization of Scratch blocks. These blocks allow kids to grasp programming concepts and develop logical understanding without having to worry about syntax or errors in code. Blockly has developed such graphic coding blocks for popular coding languages like JavaScript and Python, which will provide the kids with a lot of head start into the coding game later in life.

7. Lego Mindstorms

Robotics is a very interesting way of learning how to code. It is also a way which most kids are already curious about. Lego Mindstorms comes in 2 parts – the hardware or the Lego kit which you will have to purchase and a Lego EV3 programming app which runs or computers or tablets. The app is free to use and is visually appealing, designed in a way to attract kids. The Lego program is written horizontally like a logical flowchart of events rather than an actual program, but the problems are simple enough for kids of 8+ years to understand and solve. The Lego kit contains a lot of lego blocks from arms and axles to caterpillar tracks and compatible wheels. These can be used to make simple Lego robots which can be then activated using programming instructions given through the app. If your kid has been a lego fan until now, this will be a good progression for them.s

8. GameMaker Studio

GameMaker Studio is a game development engine which enables kids and teens to create video games. This is made possible by having a custom visual programming language called Game Maker Language (GML). GML can be used to create even the more advanced games which were not possible using the drag and drop (DnD) feature before. GameMaker Studio is great for kids aged 10-15 who are into video games. It can give them an idea of how things which happen in video games are created in real life.

9. Python

Python is a high level programming language that is widely used commercially in the industry as well as in academia for research projects. Python supports procedural, object oriented as well as functional programming. Python has a large standard library which contains pre-built comprehensive functions that can be used to build cool projects.
Kodeclik offers Python coding classes that take you from beginning to advanced levels.

10. Javascript

Javascript is a scripting language that is used to build websites. It is an important tool to introduce to kids who are starting to program websites. It can be used to build cool forms, fun games and other exciting projects.
Javascript can be used to create both procedural as well as object oriented programs.It is a scripting language and programs written in Javascript will be executed on the client side computer thereby reducing the load on the server and increasing the speed of execution. Core Javascript functions can be extended by using popular libraries like jQuery, DoJo etc.
Kodeclik offers Javascript coding classes that take you from beginning web programming to advanced levels.

11. Java

Java is a universal programming language – programs written in Java can be run on any computer or device. It is used to build a variety of desktop, web, mobile, enterprise, embedded and scientific applications. Several popular games like Minecraft have been developed using Java.

12. Lua

Lua is a lightweight, embeddable scripting language that is easy to learn and use. It is often used in game development, making it an excellent choice for kids interested in creating games. In fact, Lua is the primary programming language used in Roblox. Lua scripts are used to define how objects and characters move, respond to user input, and interact with the game world. Roblox also provides an API (Application Programming Interface) that exposes various functions and objects specific to the Roblox platform, allowing developers to access and manipulate game elements using Lua code.

13. Ruby

Ruby is a dynamic, open-source programming language focused on simplicity and productivity. It is widely used for web development, particularly with the Ruby on Rails framework, which provides a robust set of tools and conventions for building web applications quickly. Ruby is also commonly used for scripting, system administration tasks, data analysis, and even game development. While not as prevalent as some other languages, Ruby has found a niche in the developer community due to its clean and expressive syntax, which emphasizes code readability and developer happiness. Beyond web development, Ruby is utilized in various domains, including desktop applications, DevOps tools, and educational programming environments, thanks to its versatility and ease of use.

14. Swift

Swift is a modern, multi-paradigm programming language developed by Apple Inc. for building apps for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Swift combines the performance and efficiency of compiled languages with modern language features and safety constructs. It supports object-oriented, functional, and protocol-oriented programming paradigms, allowing developers to write clean, maintainable code. Swift's syntax is designed to be easy to read and write, with features like type inference, automatic memory management, and powerful error handling mechanisms. With its growing popularity and strong support from Apple, Swift has become a valuable skill for developers interested in building applications for Apple's ecosystem.

15. Mojo

Finally, Mojo is a new programming language that makes it easier to create artificial intelligence (AI) programs and apps. It is based on Python, so if you know Python already, Mojo is really use to pick up! However, Mojo is designed to run much faster than Python, especially for AI tasks like image recognition or language processing. With Mojo, you can write code using the simple and friendly Python syntax you're familiar with, but your programs will run incredibly quickly, almost as fast as lower-level languages like C or C++. This means you can build powerful AI applications very easily!

Conclusion

In conclusion, introducing children to coding at a young age can ignite their passion for technology and prepare them for success in the digital world. With the wide range of coding languages and educational tools available, parents and educators have plenty of options to choose from when teaching kids to code. Whether it's through visual programming languages like Scratch and TinkerCAD or text-based languages like Python and Javascript, the key is to make learning coding fun, interactive, and accessible for young learners. Who knows, the next generation of coding prodigies could be just a few lines of code away!

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