5 Best Programming Languages For Kids To Learn Coding

Soon enough, everyone is going to need a programmer, and unfortunately, there aren’t enough programmers to fill these roles. That said, you might want to start fostering the interest in your children so that they can get a head start in their programming knowledge. It’s a good way to ensure that they’ll have not only a rewarding career, but a lucrative one that will be stable for years and years to come.

However, children aren’t always able to understand the complexity of some popular programming languages like React (JavaScript), C++, Python, Java, and so on. Children need to start with programming languages that they can easily grasp, languages that are actually designed for children. While these won’t necessarily teach them the “big” name programming languages, it will teach them the theory and concepts behind them so that they can easily pick them up later.

So what are the best programming languages for kids to learn coding? Follow along below, and we’ll show you our top five.

Scratch

Coming up as number one on our countdown, we have MIT’s own kids programming language — Scratch. Scratch uses blocks to help kids learn the theory and critical thinking skills that comes with programming. With Scratch, MIT includes a handful of awesome getting-started tutorials for kids, and even instructions for parents to help their kids along. Scratch even has a deck of cards that kids can use to learn the theory of programming away from the computer as well.

Blockly

Blockly comes up as second on our countdown, and is basically Google’s offshoot of Scratch. It uses the same block style that Scratch does, but one of the highlights of it, is that it actually outputs the actual code into the right pane. So not only do kids get to learn through interlocking blocks, but if they want, they can also see how the actual code looks by outputting it into that right pane. Blockly can actually display the code in a ton of different languages — JavaScript, PHP, and more.

Blockly isn’t as developed as Scratch, and the future of the project isn’t exactly clear. So while Blockly is a neat way to get kids to learn, Scratch might be a better option for those that are looking for something a little more long-term.

Swift Playgrounds

Maybe you want your kids to start learning how to construct their own iOS apps. Swift Playgrounds will be right up their alley then, giving them something practical that they can see out of what they built. Swift Playgrounds only runs on the iPad, and can be downloaded directly from Apple for free.

Kids can direct a character around a 3D world, where they can do different actions to program their apps. Children will have to be able to read tutorials, and have to understand some problem solving concepts. Once kids understand that, they can master Swift Playgrounds, and then easily transition right into regular Swift.

Alice

Developed by Carnegie-Melon University, Alice is another child-friendly programming language. It uses the block style, but might be more geared towards the older kids, as Alice really does try to push actual code on kids. One of the neat things about Alice is that it teaches the concepts of object-oriented programming, as well as general C++. It certainly will make it easy for kids to jump into full on C++, but does make it harder on the younger learners. Alice will work on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

Lego Mindstorms V3

Some kids might like a more robotics approach to programming. Older kids might appreciate this style more, but Lego Mindstorms V3 is exactly for that. You’ll need a LEGO Mindstorms kit to start programming, but once you have it, you can download a visual kid-friendly programming LEGO app to start programming your LEGO creation. LEGO EV3 programming software is available on both the computer and tablets, using that same building block style that Scratch and Blockly do. It’s a great way to introduce kids to programming, because they can actually see the results of their work in terms of making their Lego Mindstorms robot do different actions and movements.

LEGO Mindstorms doesn’t teach an exact programming language, but it does get kids setup for theory that they’ll in languages like Python and C++.

Get a LEGO Mindstorms kit here.

Verdict

These are all great programming languages that your kids will be able to grasp onto easily. Each one sets children up for learning the theory and critical thinking skills that some of the larger languages require. It makes for a seamless transition from a visual block-representation language to a normal coding representation.