Computer science and coding are becoming a focus in elementary education as coding helps children develop problem-solving resilience, and logical thinking skills. At the same time, it allowing learners to improve 21st century skills making coding a great addition to your classroom. However, there are still myths about teaching kids to code that we're here to discuss and debunk, so you feel confident teaching elementary coding.
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Myth #1: "I need coding experience."
You Know More Than You Think You Do!
Sure, you might not know all the specific coding vocabulary, but you'd be surprised by how many computer science fundamentals are common sense. For example, Sequence is a core coding concept because code needs to be written in an exact order to work. Similarly, we do hundreds of tasks every day that require an exact sequence, too, like following the steps to hash out hands or an instruction manual to build a piece of furniture. Essentially, every coding concept has a real-world analogy that will make it easier for your students (and you!) to grasp.
For instance, check out our simple Sequence hand washing lesson as a simple way to teach Sequence and a classroom procedure at the same time. View Sequence Lesson Here ->
Learn Alongside Your Students
Secondly, did you know you don't need to know how to write any code to teach and explain the basics? You can learn enough to introduce the basics by watching videos, reading guides, and asking for help! In other words, anything you don't know beforehand, you have the opportunity to learn alongside your students. You're in this together, and you do not need to be the expert.
Watch our quick STEM Buzzword Video below to learn the coding basics you'll hear when teaching coding. Following, check out our collection of kid-friendly videos (second videos down!) that will teach your kiddos coding concepts and verbiage.
Find a ton more resources on our YouTube Channel Here ->
Myth 2: "I should be able to answer all student questions."
For example, do you think there is a subject out there that anyone knows all the answers to? Certainly, even experts in a subject cannot answer every single question that comes their way, so you don't need to know it all either! When you don't know the answer to student questions, it opens up an opportunity to learn together.
Got a Question You Can't Answer? Try This!
- Ask guiding follow-up questions.
- Bring in another student to help - they might know more than you!
- Model what it looks and sounds like by drawing on what you do know to make an educated guess.
- Try to solve the issue together! Consider working through the problem as a class, demonstrating how you would go about finding the answer—trial and error, testing hypotheses, etc.
- If you're genuinely stumped, search for help online, post in a community group, or reach out directly to the customer service of whatever program you're using.
To touch on students helping each other, we interviewed Mrs. Moyers, a first-grade teacher, who added coding into her classroom and used an anchor chart with helpful questions students could ask when offering help. Check out her chart below and read more on how she added coding into her classroom to improve student communication skills. Read Teacher Review Here ->
Remember, problem-solving is a huge part of computer science. 'Debugging' is one of the core tasks that real-world coders perform every single day. Finding and solving Bugs are more important than getting every answer right the first time; making this a fantastic opportunity to give yourself and your students a break. As a result, every "wrong" answer is a chance to practice critical thinking and problem-solving!
Myth 3: "There are too many things I need to teach coding that I don't have."
Coding education can happen anywhere, at any time, with or without devices! Yes, certain tools might make teaching coding easier, but only a few things are definitely required. Check out the list below:
Make sure you have these things before you start!
- Create a plan to start. Getting started is often the most challenging part! (We will be talking all about forming this plan and what is involved in our next webinar- be on the look out for it!)
- Have a desire to try something new! This is needed from you and your students.
- Have a space to learn. This doesn't need to be a computer lab or even a classroom with chairs, it can be a classroom center or just at their desk- get creative if you have to.
These things are nice to have but not required!
- Tech Devices. iPads, Chromebooks, desktop computers, or other tech devices can open the door to many coding platforms and apps to make it easier.
- Community Support. Find a person or support system to go to for help/guidance. This can be an online community, mentor, instructional coach, etc.
What's NOT Required
You can skip these if you don't have them already!
- A dedicated Tech Teacher. Any math, social studies, science, PE, or art teacher can teach coding!
- Devices for every child. Remember, pair and group programming is a great way to practice communication skills.
- A computer lab. You can still code in your regular classroom with or without devices.
- Previous coding experience. Coding is for all levels of experience and is not necessary for you or your students.
If you're looking for device-free coding lessons, check out the Ultimate Guide to Unplugged Coding for inspiration.
Myth 4: "I don't have time."
Above all, one of the main reasons that we hear from teachers about why they aren't ready to start a coding program with their students, is timing. And we get it! While it is true that implementing curricula for a new subject can take a bit of prep time, here are some recommendations for how to make it smoother.
If you don't have the personal time:
This might sound like: "I want to try it, but I am swamped. I just don't have time in my day to learn and then teach an entirely new subject that I know nothing about!"
- You actually only need a small block to try it!
- Put your trust in programs like Kodable or Code.org that have a pre-made curriculum already made for you. All you need to do is sign up and help students log in, the scaffolded curriculum will do the rest!
For instance, in Kodable, the levels are scaffolded and gradually increase in difficulty, so kids shouldn't need teacher introductions or interventions very often. Give it a try by signing up for your free teacher account with Kodable and start coding with your class within minutes.
Check out our Kodable Set Up Guide to see how easy it is. Read the article here ->
If you don't have the instructional time:
This might sound like: "My students are too far behind in the tested subjects like math and ELA for us to spend time learning a new subject that isn't required.
- You don't need to replace valuable learning time in math or ELA with coding. Instead, you can integrate them with coding! While we strongly believe that coding should be part of the core curriculum, we also understand that teachers are swamped with core content they have to teach.
- Coding can be used as a tool for creating projects and applying knowledge from other subjects.
- Get creative with time and try introducing coding as a break or reward option, rainy day recess activity, or an after-school club.
Say Goodbye to Myths About Teaching Kids to Code
In short, it's ok to go slow and not always have the answer. Also, don't think that you need to spend hours planning out a coding course or unit. You can try coding a little bit at a time and see what works best for you and your students. Myths about teaching kids to code don't have to keep you from adding coding into your classroom, so jump in and get started today!
You can learn more about the basic of coding as we will cover what coding means for a 5-7 year-old student or discover how you can start a coding program with your students this school year by watching our free teacher training webinars .
Breaking Down K-2 Coding Webinar Watch Here ->
How & Where to Start Coding Webinar Watch Here ->
Finally, don't forget to share these myths about teaching kids to code with your fellow educators.