Programming for Kids: Parents Ask, Tynker Answers

Programming for Kids: Parents Ask, Tynker Answers
Last Updated: September 25, 2013 5:00 pm

Programming for Kids: Parents Ask, Tynker Answers

If you are a parent of young children interested in helping them learn computer programming, you most likely have many questions on how to go about it. Even how to begin to explore this for your kids.

The Libertarian Homeschooler, a Facebook page with high quality content and a thriving and involved community of parents, wanted to get to the bottom of ‘programming for kids’. They asked if Tynker could help them explore and understand this area better.

Parents posed questions, Tynker answered, and this led to a very informative and insightful discussion on the topic a few days ago over at their Facebook page.

We share with you below the first set of these questions and answers:

Why do children need to learn programming? And similar Qs. Tynker answers…

Q: Why is it important for our children to know programming? My kids are learning word processing, making presentations, using spreadsheets, and browsing the internet – isn’t that good enough?

A: Our children today are surrounded by technology, and their future is going to be even more technology immersed. Instead of being merely passive consumers of this technology, it is important for them to become active participants – to direct, participate, create, and control, literally, their future.

And this is relevant not just for kids who will grow up and become ‘programmers’, it is for practically every career – doctors will be using computing for decision making, so will architects and artists.

Programming is the set of instructions from us that computers follow, for the high-tech world of today and tomorrow therefore, programming really is a basic literacy.

Q: What is computational thinking?

A: Computational thinking is a problem solving process. It includes knowing how and when to use computing tools, knowing what steps you need to take to solve a problem, and logically organizing and analyzing data.

Q: What is STEM learning, especially in the context of elementary or middle school kids, and how does programming fit into it?

A: STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Educators and parents are trying to focus more and more on STEM education for children, at elementary level upwards, recognizing the importance of these subjects in today’s high-tech economy.

Programming unlocks STEM skills in children. Programming and logical reasoning are very closely linked to math, physics and other science subjects. So kids are able to practically apply their understanding of math and science, as well as reinforce their learning.

Is programming hard for my child? And similar Qs. Tynker answers..

Q: Isn’t programming too complex for kids? I have heard of C, Java – how can young kids learn those?

A: Traditionally programming required knowledge of syntax – that is, the use of sequences of text including words, numbers, and punctuation. You are right – this is a complexity that children cannot successfully navigate.

But visual-based programming, that uses Lego(R) blocks like pre-created code, ensures kids can focus on the fundamental programming logic, rather than syntax.

We have a visual programming platform – with pre-created code blocks (see image below) that children can easily drag and drop to ‘write’ a program (that is, build a game, a story) that works. Kids don’t get frustrated with “program not working” because of a missing semi-colon!

Tynker Code Blocks For Programming

Q: Code is important to everything that happens on a computer. Got it. Now what in the world is it?

A: It’s the first step in going from using things to start understanding how things work. Code is what drives a computer – the best way our students understand it is, the set of instructions that tell a computer what to do. That thought, as you can imagine, can be very empowering for kids!

Q: What do kids actually learn when they learn programming? Do they just learn how to use a tool? Or create a game or two?

A: Kids will of course get familiar with the programming tool, say Tynker, but they will also learn how to tell a good story, logically sequence events, and model real situations. They will increase their technical proficiency.

Most importantly, they will develop their algorithmic and design thinking abilities – in programming, the child’s mind is trained to identify and break down a problem into smaller parts, and design an approach to solve it. That’s what kids will learn, without realizing they’re learning it!

Q: Does learning to program help with a child’s other learning? We all know ‘integrated’ education instead of learning subjects in silos makes for deeper and more fundamental understanding among kids.

A: Agreed! Project Based Learning (PBL) inspires students to gain a deeper knowledge of subjects that they are learning. Programming is a great way to apply and strengthen learning across different subjects.

Sharing the experience of one of our elementary school teachers:

Adrienne Guireba, a third grade teacher, very effectively uses Tynker in her classroom for PBL of STEM subjects. Her class was learning about the Baylands in California. Instead of using slides and posters to state what they knew, kids used Tynker to illustrate, animate, and create a representation of it. There are some interesting projects that you can see here in her students’ Baylands showcase .

Q: Will programming really hold my child’s attention? My son shows more interest when learning is hands-on. He doesn’t really enjoy learning from books.

A: Programming is more hands-on than any other subject your child will learn! Programming is all about implementing – you write code, see if it works, and keep correcting and improving, while running the program each time.

And if the program kids get to create is fun and engaging (what’s not to like in creating animations and games! – see below some fun projects built by kids), they get automatically hooked on – no pushing needed. Tynker has been created around this fundamental premise – provide kids the opportunity to be creative and become Makers – learning will automatically happen.

Read the second half of parent Q&As here.

Tynker Introduction to Programming Img

About Tynker

Tynker enables children to learn computer programming in a fun and imaginative way. More than 60 million kids worldwide have started learning to code using Tynker.


  1. Brian Campbell 10 years ago

    I think programming is accessible to kids of all ages. Tynker looks like amazing software and I’ve had experience with a similar programming language. I work for iD Tech Camps and we have a summer programming class for kids as young as 7 that uses Scratch. It’s amazing to see what kids come up with and how empowered they feel after they are able to write code to make something fun happen on the computer!


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