How Coding Develops Focus and Organization
Welcome to this series, where we’ll explore the relationship between soft skills and coding! We’ll look at the importance of soft skills in programming, as well as how learning to code can help kids develop these skills.
So, what are soft skills anyway? Anything that doesn’t directly produce a result but aids or expedites the production or improves the quality of that work could be considered a soft skill. An easy way to define them is simply, important life skills. They’re a popular notion in the business world, and encompass qualities like leadership, communication, and perseverance. Although they may be difficult to measure, soft skills are vastly important for children to learn. As founder and CEO Krishna Vedati told the BBC, “Our goal is not to create programmers, but to offer coding as a life skill.”
Focus and organization are key to, well, everything! In a world where it’s increasingly harder to focus, everyone could use a boost – especially kids. Coding is a great example of an activity that requires focus and organization, but more than that, it’s a fantastic way to develop those skills.
Decreasing Attention Spans
It’s no secret that the distractions we all face impact our ability to focus, and kids are no exception to that. Between shows on TV, games on phones, and other distractions, there’s a lot of opportunities for kids to lose focus. The instant gratification found in these activities can make it difficult to focus, which consequentially makes it difficult to be organized.
Alain, whose son Elisha uses Tynker, told us, “You speak to young kids nowadays and because of all this stimulus everywhere – billboards and movies and everything going on – the attention, the focus, just isn’t there.”
Educational psychologist Jane Healey writes that fast-paced TV shows and games overstimulate and manipulate dopamine receptors, resulting in a shorter attention span.
Why Organization and Focus are Key to Coding
Organization goes hand in hand with focus, especially when it comes to writing complicated code. In order to think through code logically, it needs to be organized in an intuitive way, and vice versa. The more complicated the code, the more a programmer has to organize, incorporating elements like data structures to streamline the code.
Santiago, Featured Maker Nico’s dad, has a similar view on coding. He said, “To me, it’s a way of organizing ideas, structural thinking, and logical thinking. It’s challenging because kids are forced to think about how to solve a problem.”
A video game designer by the name of James Hague reiterated this idea on his blog, writing, “To a great extent the act of coding is one of organization.” Focus and organization are key to writing good code, but can coding help develop these skills? It’s possible!
How Learning to Code Develops Focus and Organization
Programming can help establish the focus and organization it relies on, especially when working with a platform like Tynker. Kids are motivated to finish a project because it’s exciting, so they push themselves to focus, organize, and make it happen! Featured Maker Anthony described this well during his interview, saying, “I like to code because it is sometimes complex. It’s like when you’re working up a hill that has jewels at the top. It’s hard to get up it, but when you get to the top you’re really proud and you think it’s awesome.” The goal-oriented nature of an exciting project promotes focus and organization in kids.
The logical nature of programming – identifying a problem, thinking through steps, and then implementing a solution – encourages organization of thought and sustained focus. A paper written by Roy D. Pea and D.Midian Kurland argues that, “In explicitly teaching the computer to do something, it is contended that you learn more about your own thinking.” The focus and organization needed to problem solve from start to finish can be difficult to maintain, but it isn’t impossible to develop.
As with any other activity, coding improves with practice – as do the skills accompanying it. Inside and outside the classroom, applied to coding or homework, the focus and organization learned through programming will help kids in any endeavor!