Question: At what age can a primary school teacher realistically start teaching coding to primary school students?

When to Teach Coding in Primary Schools

When to Teach Coding in Primary Schools

When to Teach Coding in Primary Schools

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The short answer is any age, the UK National Curriculum introduces coding to KS1 students. How will very much depend on the children in your classroom, their prior experience and the resources you have available to you.

You can start them off with some unplugged activities like Cubetto, to get them used to some key concepts and some of the perplexing terminology that computer scientists and programmers use.

Even very young children can understand simple conditionals such as:

If it’s warm outside, just wear a T-shirt Else were a jumper as well

Or looping logic such as when eating a pot of yogurt:

Repeat until the pot is empty Scoop yogurt onto spoon Put spoon in mouth

You can find some amazing unplugged activities online, such as the ones available at CS Fundamentals Unplugged aimed at ages four and upwards.

Scratch Block Based Programming

Scratch Broadcast And Wait Block Waits For The Receiver Block To Finish

Scratch Broadcast And Wait Block Waits For The Receiver Block To Finish

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Then, of course, if you have the computers, you can move you students on to block-based languages such as Scratch. Again, this is appropriate for almost any age, and so long as your students are comfortable using a mouse, they can start making small animations, stories and games.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has a wide range of resources for teaching Scratch, but there are plenty of other resources out there for many different block-based languages like Google’s Blockly Mazes.

Finally, if and when you feel they’re ready, you could look at introducing some basic HTML skills to get them used to writing code in text, and then move them on to a text-based language such as Python (see EduBlocks for Transition from Scratch to Python) or JavaScript.

EduBlocks Example Button Code

EduBlocks Example Button Code

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This last step is up to you and the progress your students have made. Many children don’t move on to text-based languages until they arrive at a Secondary school, while others are already pretty confident coders.

Originally published in Hello World Issue 5 : The Computing and Digital Making Magazine for Educators. Above article includes modifications from the original article. License CC BY-NC-SA 3.0