How To Introduce Primary Pupils To Programming

Computers are very much a part of everyday life now and pupils who are currently in primary school know nothing of a world without the internet. It is because of this that they need a more advanced curriculum when it comes to computer technology. This is being introduced in a couple of years and a significant aspect of it will involve pupils learning how to code. While the benefits in teaching children programming are obvious and numerous, it does beg the question; how should schools go about it?

The first thing primary school teachers will have to do when teaching primary pupils how to code, is to manage their own expectations. Children develop at different stages and just as some children take longer to read fluently, some will need more time to learn programming. It can take some children a while to develop analytical skills and for these children a patient approach will be necessary.

There are various different programming languages and some are far more complicated than others. An early programming language, BASIC (Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) was introduced in a cut down form BBC BASIC for use on the BBC computer. It is a fairly straightforward language and one which it will be easier for primary school pupils to get to grips with. You do not have to limit your pupils to just one simple language, but it is a good way to break them in gently.

It is also really important to make coding seem fun so that it is more accessible to a younger audience. Introducing it as a mathematical, technological challenge is not going to make it appealing to the majority of children so teachers will have to find an approach which is more relevant to their age range. Online games offer one such technique particularly as the visuals and graphics are likely to be a lot more engaging to primary pupils than complicated explanations and board work. Introducing children to such games at school can encourage them to pursue similar activities in their own time at home. The internet is so accessible now that they will be able to play and therefore practice whenever they want.

Using other online resources can also be really helpful. Resources designed specifically to teach children how to code are becoming more and more commonplace and they can be really useful in the classroom. Using a tool to create a simple code in front of the class is a great way to make sure everyone understands and you can address any queries as they arise.

As much as it is important to teach programming at a manageable pace, it is also important to challenge pupils from time to time. Why not introduce a little competition by challenging pupils to change a code made in class and then rewarding those who are successful? Coding can be very satisfying when it is done correctly and encouraging children to feel a sense of achievement when they have built something will increase the enjoyment they get out of it.

It might take some time to find a successful method for teaching programming to younger children but it will soon become a staple part of the curriculum. Once a few schools have effectively introduced it, teaching coding to primary schools pupils will undoubtedly become a smoother process.