Can 5-year-old kids do coding?

Fun coding with CodeJuniors - Pix from Google

By Huzraifah Atikah

Even for adults, coding or programming is considered complicated and time-consuming.

But in today's reality, while many kids are busy watching cartoons or singing baby shark songs on their smartphones, some kids are busy learning coding to create their own games and animations. 

Is it really possible for a 5-year-old kid in Malaysia to learn coding?

Well, a centre called CodeJuniors founded by Jacqueline Lee, started teaching coding to children to encourage creativity and critical thinking.

“Teaching coding to younger children encourages them to think harder to solve problems,” Lee said.

When there is an error in their code, they would be forced to debug them by retracing their steps to find the error.

“Parents would send their kids here for them to learn how to design games, instead of merely playing them,” Lee added.

There are many programming languages for all sorts of purposes. One of the most popular and user-friendly is the Python programming language, which Lee uses.

She ventured into this after realising Malaysia did not have a programme to teach coding to children, unlike Singapore and the US. 

“I wanted to do something different, something that we don’t have in Malaysia,” Lee said.

The practice of writing code using a programming language is the backbone of digital applications Malaysians use every day.

Children at CodeJuniors also learn how to program robots during the workshops, which encourages them to learn sequential thinking and develop foresight.

They have to think about how to program the robot to walk without using a remote control. Everything needs to be programmed in a sequence beforehand.

The kids would be trained to imagine how they wanted a robot to move before it even starts moving.

“For example, you might need 20 steps to solve a problem in your code or to make a robot move in a circle or a square," she said.

Lee said the current education syllabus was static and had not been revamped to reflect the rapid technological advancements.

“Are we merely coping with the current syllabus or do we actually have room to grow and explore beyond the syllabus?” she asked.

Lee also said that Singapore has introduced an O-level computing subject for secondary school students, which includes programming in its framework.

If the education industry is not prepared to face the current and future technological changes, its impact will be on the kids.