Aptitude for learning technology, and many other subjects is highest when we are children. Learning languages tends to be most effective when kids are under ten. Why wouldn’t the same hold true for programming languages? Many say the minds of children are like sponges, open to absorbing new ideas, skills and behaviours. Like no other generation before them, young people attending school are digital natives. They take to technology more naturally than other generations before them.

How do you help these digital natives learn programming in the most effective way? Through traditional classroom lectures, or in more hands-on learning labs? Parents, experts and kids themselves are all speaking out. Vancouver coding for kids is providing results which might surprise you.

The Lecture Learning Method vs Hands-On Coding and eLearning
handprintsPicture the typical classroom setting, with students at desks, facing front listening attentively to a teacher at a blackboard, or whiteboard. Information is flowing outward over the class, to students who are taking notes, absorbing as much as they can about the information they are told. If you think about when you learned Math, Grammar, Science, Literature or History, how did you best retain that information? In most cases, it would be by working through sample exercises, doing book reports, doing lab experiments or putting the learning into active practice.

The detail of learning how to code languages like JavaScript, Visual Basic, Python and C++ is fairly complex. You can watch a teacher write lines of code on a whiteboard, and possibly hear about what the results will be of scripts and lines of code, though hands-on training is far more effective to drive the information home. Remember when you used to rattle off multiplication tables, recite famous poems, or draw diagrams of the human digestive system? You probably had better retention of this sort of information from hands-on learning, as opposed to listening to a teacher and trying to retain all of the data.

The Three Types of Learners
Whether you are a nine year old, or forty-nine, you fall into one of three types of learners:Screen-shot-2012-06-22-at-3.23.05-PM

  • Visual – Learning through what you see or read
  • Auditory – Building your understanding through discussions, lectures or recorded audio
  • Kinesthetic – Training through participation in activities, lab experiments or role playing exercises

If you think about these sorts of learning, you can clearly see how children have the best possible opportunity to learn programming languages by writing lines of code which they write based on a defined amount of lecture/theory in the classroom. Just like learning how to speak French, German or Spanish is easiest when you speak it in the most conversational way you can, the same reality applies with learning how to code. Most public schools aren’t currently offering coding courses.

The amount of detail which is involved with learning a programming language calls for a balance of lecture and hands on learning to be effectively retained. Teachers can be highly skilled at their craft, however if a student doesn’t have the opportunity to sit in front of a computer to apply what they learned, kids can quickly have what they are taught slip through the cracks in their memory. They will likely need to be retrained when it comes time to write a line or sequence of code.

The Importance of Knowing How to Code
Learning how software programs are written is becoming vital to many jobs in the technology industry, and across many other industries as well. Seventy percent of software programming related jobs are in industries like retail, government, media and others. Lecture training for programming for young people is a lot like learning music theory.


You need a foundation of knowing the basics of how to read the notes, clefs, and get the appropriate timing for playing music. Until you pick up a musical instrument and try to apply the theory, you are at risk of forgetting a lot of what you’ve learned because you aren’t putting it into practice. Understanding the theory of programming is important, yet without the practical understanding of coding, programmers find it difficult to know how to apply their skills in real world scenarios.

Striking a balance between classroom lectures, and hands-on coding training is vital. A teenager can sit in a classroom and learn about how to drive for a long time, however until they get out on Vancouver streets, they aren’t going to be able to apply what they’ve learned. Learning how to write code is a lot like learning other skills in life, a balance of instruction and practice generates the best results.

“Everybody should learn how to program computers. It teaches you how to think”
– Steve Jobs

Contact Under the GUI to help your child learn how to code, compete and succeed among their digital native peers.