The push to include computer science in school curricula is gathering steam in the U.S. and around the world; soon, learning to code may be a normal part of children’s education. There are a multitude of reasons why these classes are valuable, but a changing economy that rewards those with computer skills and the foundational learning benefits of computer science courses are two of the reasons usually given for this shift.
Here, we’ve broken down a few of the benefits of teaching computer science classes to younger students, all of which have to do with the way coding teaches children to think.
Computational and Sequential Thinking
Computer science classes don’t just teach children programming languages (although that is certainly a benefit) — they also improve what’s called computational and sequential thinking. As any computer scientist knows, coding requires mastery of an “if this, then that” mindset, or computational thinking. Not only is computational thinking required in other STEM classes like science and math, it’s even useful in philosophy and for teaching children to make logical decisions.
Coding also improves what’s known as sequential thinking, or the ability to order events chronologically and recognize the logical next steps and overall sequences in problems. Interestingly, this is also one of the critical skills needed to develop strong reading comprehension abilities. In that sense, coding can actually work as an aid to improve reading comprehension, another valuable ability that students need to master in order to get ahead.
Some argue that computer science classes take time away from important, core classes that have taught students the skills they need to succeed for generations. As we can see, however, coding actually helps students improve the underlying skills necessary to do well in other subjects — in addition to its more practical benefits.
Problem Solving and Curiosity
Coding and computer science classes also have the benefit of incorporating active learning. Rather than memorizing and regurgitating facts and formulas, students are encouraged to use their curiosity and actively work to solve problems presented to them. These days, most children are exposed to a variety of devices and technologies from a very young age, but they aren’t given the opportunity to ask how or why these things work the way that they do.
Computer science classes give students just that opportunity, opening up an entirely new world to young students and showing them what goes on behind the screens they interact with on a daily basis — that’s more than even many adults know! And as technology grows more ubiquitous and continues to evolve, students who have studied computer science from a young age will have a distinct advantage.
Of course, computer science classes aren’t beneficial simply because of the underlying skills they teach students — these courses also help prepare students for jobs as adults. Information technology is one of the fastest-growing job markets in the world, and coding jobs are quickly transitioning from niche positions to steady, middle-class jobs that offer stability and support for workers and their families. And, as more traditional jobs in industries like manufacturing begin to disappear, it’s more important than ever that students are equipped with the skills they need to survive in a world dominated by technology.
This article is about computer science education in general, across all ages, but we can’t resist mentioning a specific program we have aimed at college students. It’s our computer science internship program in Belarus, which we’re quite proud of. The program, available for students at Belarusian State University in Minsk (location of our largest development center), educates students for future jobs in computer science and has provided access to unparalleled learning and employment opportunities for more than half a decade.
Students who are accepted into the program have the chance to work closely with experienced software engineers, strengthening their skills through real-world work in coding, design, development, and testing. About a quarter of the class is offered positions at Exadel after finishing their work as students, and those who work elsewhere find themselves well prepared to thrive in an economy that’s eager for workers with their skills and experience.
Interested in learning more about our internship program in Belarus? Contact Zhanna Vasilenko.