Best Kids Coding Languages to Learn 

In the 21st century, technology has become an inevitable part of our daily routine. It has a significant impact on the absolute majority of aspects of our lives, whether it be on professional, educational, or even personal levels. Just have a look around and think of the programs you use on a day-to-day basis. Emails, instant messengers, web browsers, gaming apps, – and the list goes on. However, if you dig a little deeper into the matter, you’ll find that programming stands in the core of all technology. Which kids coding languages are the best to start with?

To understand programming better think of it as a way to communicate with machines – just like you would with other people. But instead of having a real face-to-face conversation you set a list of commands which machines can execute. Essentially, programming is a fundamental skill that enables people to breathe life into their ideas and translate them into programs to perform all sorts of tasks.

Doing homework on their laptops or playing computer games are some of the most common activities for the younger generation growing up in the digital age. In fact, an average 6-year-old may feel even more natural interacting with all the apps and gadgets than adults. Kids can enjoy numerous advantages that technology can bring. Their parents didn’t have this privilege in their childhood.

Nowadays most schools include programming lessons into their curriculums. When kids learn to code, they gain crucial skills like critical thinking or problem-solving. It is essential to introduce children to programming from a younger age.

Introducing Scratch – kids coding language

Scratch is a visual programming language that has been invented by a group of enthusiasts from the Lifelong Kindergarten group, led by Mitchel Resnick, at the MIT Media Lab. It dates back to 2003 when the Scratch programming language was introduced.

The creators of Scratch initially aimed to help kids learn the basics of programming. However, they also wanted to turn the learning process into a simple and engaging activity. To achieve this, they had to design their programming language in such a way that even children as young as 8 years old would understand. And they did it exceeding all expectations.

Scratch comes with an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. It is divided into different sections: project developing and project running environments. Getting started with Scratch is quite straightforward since it does a massive emphasis on visuals.

To perform different commands, you simply drag and mix different parts of the code, which pile up into blocks. Think of it as building a LEGO castle by putting pieces together! This way, kids can experiment with various puzzle-piece blocks of code and learn how it works through trial and error. This helps them train their critical thinking as well as improve logic and problem-solving skills.

In comparison to other programming languages, Scratch is much more straightforward and easier to learn. It is an ideal programming language for young learners, especially those who don’t have any knowledge or previous coding experience.

With Scratch programming language you can create all kinds of programs – from creative animations and cool art to apps and games. Kids can share their final projects with the online Scratch community or check the projects created by other coders. The best news, you can use Scratch free of charge wherever you are.

Programming languages for kids for in-depth learning

Python programming for kids

Python is a text-based programming language which may be used for various purposes. A Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum created it in 1991. A couple of its standout features are code readability and significant usage of whitespace. It’s also important to note that Python is a multi-paradigm language. In other words, Python provides support for multiple programming paradigms, which gives users the freedom to choose between different programming styles and features they prefer (i.e. structured programming, meta-programming, object-oriented programming, etc.).

Python is considered to be one the easiest coding languages to learn due to its simplified syntax. Python programming language can be a great example of introductory kids coding languages for young learners who are just starting out with coding. Programming with Python teaches kids how to properly use such data structures as maps, lists, tuples, etc. They also learn to work with loops and variables among many other Python functions. As you can see, Python helps kids gain essential skills and knowledge to transition to more complex and robust languages.

Another significant advantage of learning Python is that this language is versatile. Besides game development, Python is a valuable asset that is actively applied in other fields, including artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

Kids coding languages ffrom beginners to advanced

Java

Developed in the early 1990s, Java is a popular programming language. Created by James Gosling and his colleagues, Java was aimed to help breath in life into handheld devices and set-top boxes. This is a general-purpose programming language and an excellent choice to start learning to code. It uses automatic memory allocation, garbage collection and allows the creation of modular programs and reusable code.

Programming has proved to bring kids multiple advantages. It improves communication, creativity, writing skills. It also helps to develop confidence and resilience. It is best to start learning Java around 12 years old or even a bit later. In majority of cases Java is too complicated as a first programming language for a kid under 12. Since the beginning, Java was designed to be easy to read and write. Its code can run on all platforms that support Java without recompiling.

Game development is often one of the biggest motivation factors for kids and teenagers to learn Java. Quite often the kids who like Minecraft need Java to do mods. This fosters their creativity and motivates them to learn the basics of coding with Java.

There are plenty of options available to tech your kid Java. Dozens of books, tutorials, online courses and workshops cover the topic. However, the magic ingredient that makes learning more effective is having the assistance of an experienced Java programmer, who will monitor the activity and progress actions of the child.

JavaScript coding language for children

Although bearing a similar name, JavaScript and Java are in fact totally separate languages. When it comes to choosing among different programming languages, JavaScript (JS) may be just the right choice for your kid. JavaScript is a high-level, object-oriented coding language. It is used in client-facing web applications, which means JS runs on the client’s computer.

Apart from HTML and CSS, JavaScript represents one of the three fundamental technologies, used in web application development. With its help, you can take an open structured web document written in HTML and styled with CSS and transform it into a more complex, interactive web page with computational abilities. It’s worth mentioning that JavaScript is widely popular. The majority of web applications use JS. Even your web browser runs on it.

It is necessary to note though that it is best to start learning JavaScript once your child has already gained some text-based programming skills. JS is also perfect for kids who have experience coding with Scratch or Python; they should have at least a general idea about variables, objects, arrays, parameters, and functions. However, in the long run, learning to code with JavaScript brings a set of essential skills and knowledge young learners could use to solve more complex programming tasks. Moreover, backed up by JavaScript coding skills, kids could further proceed to practice with such environments and libraries as Node and React and even develop their apps for mobile or web.

Node.js for kids

Node.js is an open-source runtime environment that is written in JavaScript programming language. It was created and introduced to the general public by Ryan Dahl in 2009. Node.js operates on Google’s V8 JavaScript engine. Since it is a server-side JavaScript runtime environment, you can use the same code to create both the back-end and the front-end of your web application.

While it’s a bit complicated for younger kids, Node.js is a great next step when they grow up. Over the years, the popularity of Node.js has reached high peaks. Users from all over the world choose Node.js, and even some big corporations have adopted the runtime environment. Numerous world-known applications use Node.js. Some of them include LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Uber, Yahoo, and many others. By the way, Netflix app that everybody loves so much has its whole user interface running on Node.js.

React.js for children

React.js is a JavaScript library that was developed by Jordan Walke, one of the software engineers at Facebook. First, let’s figure out what a JavaScript library is. A JavaScript library is a library that contains pre-written JavaScript code. In particular, this may be very useful when creating mobile or web applications written in JavaScript, as it greatly simplifies the whole developing process.

React is more appropriate for teenage young coders. As of today, many different companies choose React.js to power appealing interfaces for their apps and enhance their user experience. Some of the most popular apps that use React are Dropbox, WhatsApp, New York Times, and Codecademy among lots of others. 

React Native for kids

React Native is based on both React.js and JavaScript programming language. You can think of it as a handy and easy-to-use technology that helps you build cross-platform mobile apps. React Native was developed by Facebook back in 2013. It was created to meet the company’s own need of bringing the benefits of web development to mobile. However, it wasn’t until March of 2015 when Facebook presented React Native to the general public. It’s not really on of the easy kids coding languages.

Using React Native to develop applications for Android and iOS has become such a big trend that its popularity keeps growing up to this day. Since React Native mobile apps use the same building blocks as native Android or iOS apps, it makes the code almost unified. What does set React Native ahead of the competition is low-cost and quick application development process. Some of the famous mobile apps created with React Native are Instagram, Facebook, Wix, and Airbnb. Although, difficult for kids, it’s a great next step for your little programmers.

Top game development tools for kids

Unity for children

Unity is a game engine created by Unity Technologies and available across multiple platforms. Its release took place at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2005. At that time Unity was presented as an OS X-exclusive game engine. Today, however, Unity game engine is considered one of the most significant and most popular tools for game development worldwide.

Unity is a highly flexible and powerful tool. Unity editor comes with a simple, easy-to-navigate interface divided into different sections. Some of the most frequently used sections include Game View, Scene View, Project Browser, Hierarchy, and others. Once you feel comfortable enough with it, you’ll be able to create just about anything. Unity game engine provides all the necessary tools for developing two- or three-dimensional games. It has become quite popular among game developers over the years. There’s a high possibility that your kid’s favorite games are built with Unity. Some of the examples include Angry Birds, Temple Run, Pokemon Go and Family Guy Online.

However, capabilities of the Unity engine aren’t limited to game development. With Unity, you can fully unleash your creativity and develop lots of other exciting projects that you can run on your mobile device, desktop, console or smart TV. Using game engines like Unity for non-gaming apps has already become a common practice among developers. You may create cool animations, explore virtual reality (VR), make funny cartoons, and much more! Besides, if your kids find motion design interesting, they will have the necessary knowledge and animation skills to pursue this field.

GameMaker for kids

GameMaker Studio is a game engine created by YoYo Games. Originally named Animo, the game engine was first introduced in November 1999. With GameMaker, you can create different types of games without the need of having advanced programming skills.

The game developing process is straightforward and clear. Using GameMaker’s drag-and-drop visual scripting tool, you can execute a variety of tasks, such as working with data structures or calling functions. This is an excellent choice for users who have little to no programming experience since it eliminates the need to write code. However, those users who already have some coding background can try programming with Game Maker Language (GML). Game Maker Language is GameMaker’s built-in scripting language which allows creating more complex games compared to those developed with the drag-and-drop tool. Since GameMaker is a cross-platform engine, you can easily develop and export games to various platforms, including mobile, desktop, consoles and UWP.

Besides programming, GameMaker is commonly used for teaching STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math subjects. For example, kids need geometry to create game characters while trigonometry comes in handy when calculating character movements in the game. GameMaker helps children learn new information and gain valuable skills. Comparing to classes at school it feels more like a fun play.

How to choose first kids coding language

When selecting the right programming language for your child, try to consider different aspects. These may be the level of expertise, personal interests and age. Let’s say, if you want your kid to start learning to code from a younger age, give Scratch programming a shot. Don’t forget to begin with simple coding languages that teach basic programming skills and gradually transition to more robust ones.

Pay close attention to the things or hobbies your kid genuinely likes. If your child enjoys computer games, choose GameMaker or Unity. Maybe your kiddo has been bearing the idea of developing a new mobile app? Show encouragement and find some quality JavaScript programming classes.

Speaking of which…

Code Wiz offers a wide range of programming classes to choose from for kids of all ages. Each student receives personalized tutoring depending on their preferences and skill levels. At Code Wiz, young coders can study, create, collaborate, and solve programming problems together! Classes are available all year round, so you can start whenever you like and make them fit into your schedule.

Get a free trial lesson and give it a try before you sign up!