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01/19/2017 01:00 pm ET Updated Jan 20, 2018

Teach Your Kid to Code, Here's How

What"s some advice for parents whose children are interested in learning to program? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Ken Mazaika, CTO and co-founder of The Firehose Project, on Quora.

Give your children as many opportunities as possible to try programming.

Many parents think that programming is too complicated for their kids. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I used to teach coding classes with my co-founder, Marco Morawec, to children as young as seven years old:

  • We ran a four hour workshop in Boston that taught seven to ten year olds how to build a computer game. The students learned how computer programs worked and learned the fundamental building blocks of everyday computer programs (arguments, methods, logic, if/else, loops, etc.).
  • We also ran a more advanced class for eleven to fifteen year olds that taught them how to build a functional phone application. We used something called App Inventor, a coding environment developed by Google and MIT, that makes it easy to build this type of stuff without fancy hardware requirements.

Coding is the literacy of the 21st century. On top of that, it's incredibly rewarding! Kids love to create, have amazing imaginations, and if you give them a chance to build something cool with code, they'll be so excited to show it off to you and their friends.

If your children are already interested in learning to program, that's awesome. To help foster that interest, I'd recommend a few things:

  • Sign them up for coding workshops. You can find a lot of these on meetup.com.
  • Learn together with your kids. I started programming because my dad had a programming book. I grabbed it from his office and went through much more of it than he ever did. I thought he was going to be mad that I stole his book. But he was actually super happy that I was doing it. This made me want to keep learning.
  • Don't worry too much about which language you choose. The path to becoming a self-sufficient developer, who understands how to continuously learn new programming concepts and languages, is more important than the details of any particular programming language itself. Just pick a language and stick with it. We have an online course on HTML/CSS and Ruby if you want to start there.

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