Parents do not want to rush their kids into something that might be too hard for their age and turn them off for years to come. So how do you know when your kids are ready?
First, I want to ease your mind that no age is too young IF the material matches their ability. You don’t want to have a 6 year old struggling to program a computer to play chess. But you could teach her to make a turtle move around the screen.
It takes experience to identify the capabilities of each student. There is a fine line between providing projects that are challenging yet achievable and those that are too difficult. If the project is too easy, they will not learn very much. If it is too hard, they may shy away from the entire subject. After identifying the student’s current ability and interests, you should choose the right programming environment. We use Scratch, Alice, Google App Inventor, Java, and more.
Breakout Mentors focuses on teaching students from ten to fifteen years old because we believe this is where personalized instruction provides the most benefit. Middle school is the time when many people become more intellectually inclined and are ready to develop the critical thinking skills learned through programming. We also believe this is a critical age range to move from drag-and-drop programming to the object oriented languages taught in high school and college classes. This is a big jump and having a mentor will ease the transition.
Of course, students younger than this can benefit from a different set of tools than Breakout Mentors utilizes. We have found that these simpler programming environments do not require as much instruction, but rather just letting them explore at their own pace. Students late in their high school career should learn programming as well. These students have more opportunities available to them through high school and community college courses – at that age they are more likely to respond well to lecture-based programming instruction.
Please contact us for a free consultation to discuss your specific situation.