How to Teach Computer Programming to Gifted Kids

by The Coder School

Computer programming is increasingly becoming an essential skill in the present tech-oriented world. With this in mind, most parents are finding ways to equip their kids with coding skills in preparation for the future. For gifted kids, teaching programming may be a challenge, given their unique learning needs. In this post, you’ll learn how you to offer adequate support to gifted children and ensure they effectively acquire valuable coding skills.

What does it mean to be a Gifted Child?

The first step to successfully teaching gifted kids computer programming is by understanding what giftedness means. Simply put, gifted children are those who exhibit extraordinary abilities compared to their peers. Giftedness may manifest in the form of general intellectual ability, creativity, as well as leadership. It may also show in a child’s intelligence in specific subjects such as math or sciences.

Gifted kids learn faster than their peers and require persistent teachers or parents to provide an adequate challenge when learning. Without meaningful challenges, gifted kids may get bored or act out. According to the National Association for Gifted Children, 6% of learners in public schools are enrolled in gifted programs.

Tips for Teaching Gifted Kids Coding

Children have varying learning abilities and needs, and you can introduce coding to gifted kids as young as 4 years. To ensure optimal learning, below are a few tips for teaching computer programming to gifted kids.

1. Make Learning Fun.

Kids have short attention spans and can quickly lose interest in activities. When introducing coding to gifted kids, you need to make learning fun and exciting to maintain their enthusiasm and interest in the subject. Fortunately, numerous resources help teach kids about computer programming in a fun and engaging manner.

You can utilize age-appropriate coding toys, apps, and games such as the Minecraft app, LEGO game, robotics toys, and even puzzles for teaching fundamental coding concepts.  By encouraging fun coding activities, gifted children can learn programming in an interactive and fun manner.

2. Introduce Text-Based Programming Early.

Since gifted children grasp concepts much faster than their counterparts, they require a faster instructional pace. Therefore, it is advisable to introduce them early to text-based programming since they can quickly outgrow the drag and drop interface used in visual coding. Text-based programming introduces more advanced coding concepts and provides the challenge that gifted learners need.

While introducing more advanced concepts earlier to gifted kids may seem risky, the kids can handle it. However, ensure that you go by their pace and give them control of their learning. Note that you may require more advanced teaching resources like computers to ensure that your gifted kids learn adequately.

3. Allow for Exploration.

Gifted children process concepts differently and are more abstract and sophisticated than their peers. Therefore, they thrive by learning creatively and through experimentation. When teaching highly-abled kids how to code, tap into the learner’s interests and allow them to follow their passions and explore different concepts.

The best way to support exploration is by encouraging hands-on projects that require the kids to think out of the box. Open-ended assignments allow them to utilize their creativity and perceive coding problems and challenges from a different perspective. Tailor your teaching to suit the child’s interests. For example, if your child loves gaming, you can challenge them to develop a simple game.

4. Conduct Frequent Assessment.

The best way to ensure the kids learn what they need to is by assessing them frequently. When teaching gifted kids how to code, you don’t want to dwell on concepts that they already know. Instead, leverage their uniqueness to help them advance to more complex programming.  

When evaluating a gifted child, start by testing the more challenging concepts to establish their knowledge level. Doing so allows you to tailor your teaching and learning resources following what they already know.  If you notice that your child already understands a more challenging concept, you can move on to deeper content instead of dwelling on basics.

5. Get a Mentor

Despite the kid’s abilities, a mentor is a valuable addition to the kid’s learning experience. Not only do mentors provide the inspiration your kids need, but they also offer the necessary support and guidance related to computer programming.

Mentorship is also a great way to build meaningful relationships and connections that will be useful in the kid’s future career endeavors. A mentor can be anyone in the computer programming field, such as an established web developer or engineer.

 If your gifted child is interested in computer programming, consider enrolling them in a coding camp as part of their childhood education. Doing so gives your child access to professional and personalized learning programs that consider their learning abilities. A coding camp is also an excellent way for your gifted child to utilize their holidays by gaining valuable programming skills while having fun at it.

This article was written by thecoderschool.com and  opinions expressed within the content are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of PAGE or its affiliates

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