The most important second language your child could learn

When it comes to deciding which second language your child should learn, the right choice might not be an obvious one.

Understanding the languages of computer sciences is rapidly becoming one of the most useful skills a child could have. Not only will it pave the way for future employment, coding also helps children develop fundamental skills that are critical for thriving in the society of tomorrow.

Here are five reasons why all children should learn how to code.

Coding is one of the most widely used languages
While Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish may be some of the most widely spoken languages, the different languages of coding cut through traditional verbal barriers and are used by millions of people across the world. Almost every field of human endeavour relies on software for success, and those who are able to develop software will actively shape our social realities. In this way, coding is also a means of connecting to people and technology across the world, enabling the coding-literate to work and communicate all around the world. 

In the future, those who cannot code are likely to be viewed the same way as those who are illiterate or lack numeracy skills, and will be at a significant disadvantage in terms of participating in commerce and going about their everyday lives.

Thankfully, governments and schools are already preparing children for this new world, with coding classes being introduced in primary and secondary schools across the country. As coding has recently become mandatory in the digital curriculum for children up to Year 10, practical coding education means that children deliver a physical outcome and aren’t just learning from textbooks, making it a more holistic, engaging way to learn. Schools are also investing in coding training for teachers, as well as devices or BYOD policies that enable kids to participate in these lessons.  

Coding is a highly sought after skill by employers
Currently, demand for competent computer developers outstrips supply. This is partially due to the exponential growth of global web and mobile consumer markets, with large and small businesses heavily relying on web and mobile platforms to reach and conduct transactions with consumers. As a result, coding is now a sought after skill across many industries. From marketing and manufacturing to retail services and health sciences, coding will enable children to find employment across several industries, as it is a transferable skill that they will be able to apply in a variety of circumstances.

Furthermore, most of the jobs that are yet to be created will rely heavily on skills learnt in STEM courses. School curriculums are evolving to reflect this, evident in a greater time and financial investment being made by schools to develop coding skills in their pupils. 

Coding fosters problem solving and critical thought
Like maths, coding is based on patterns that teach children how to think in a logical, structured way. Lines of code are also interdependent, meaning if one variable changes, it affects the entire communication and functionality. In this way, coding forces children to look at problems holistically and consider how different variables will affect an outcome. 

This skill isn't just critical to coding, but to a variety of social contexts and academic disciplines. Rather than relying on environmental perception, coding teaches children to make logical connections to analyse a situation, which is an important life skill.

As a piece of code is generally comprised of many different paragraphs and subsections, coding also teaches kids how to break down big, overwhelming tasks into small, actionable ones. This is a skill that relies on time management, project management and patience, which helps kids become more disciplined in the way they approach tasks. This will also enable them to apply this systematic way of thinking to help them achieve bigger life goals.

Coding teaches kids how to interact with the world around them
Devices are already shaping and transforming our social reality, having dramatically changed the way we communicate, work and interact with others on a day-to-day basis. In the future, technology will play an even bigger role in how we live, with the 'Internet of things' meaning that we will communicate with many of our everyday inanimate objects - from household appliances to watches and wearables - through coding. 

By learning coding, kids will keep ahead of the curve. They will not only be able to interact with the world around them, but will lead the way in innovation that will solve a variety of social problems and empower people to have greater control of their lives.

Coding encourages creativity
At its core, coding is a skill that enables kids to actively build the world around them. It offers a world of limitless possibilities, which encourages them to manifest their thoughts in the real world. From online games to videos and virtual stories, coding skills enable children to bring their thoughts, visions and expressions to life across a number of platforms and create something fun, meaningful or useful. This relies on imagination and creative thought, as well as the hard work and discipline, to take something that exists in their minds and translate that into the real world. 

If you are interested in encouraging your child to learn how to code, speak to their teacher about what coding programs your school is introducing. There are also several fun, free online resources that teach kids how to code, such as Scratch, Tynker* and Hopscotch, which teach kids the basics of coding in an interactive, gamified setting.

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