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