Children across all age groups inevitably run into problems. Parents, family members, and educators can try to help children solve their problems either directly or by teaching them to problem solve on their own. While many parents or caregivers may jump at the first opportunity to assist their children when they encounter a problem, teaching them to problem solve on their own and instilling problem-solving skills from an early age would be a more long-term and effective approach.
What is Problem-solving? Why is it Important?
“Problem-solving is the act of defining a problem; determining the cause of the problem; identifying, prioritizing, and selecting alternatives for a solution; and implementing a solution.”1
Teaching children problem-solving skills right from an early age is significant in their growth and development. It will not only help children with their academic success, but will also help them with their future career opportunities, boost their confidence, and help them problem solve the issues that they face on an everyday basis. It is an important skill as learning problem-solving gives children confidence in their ability to handle complex tasks and helps them grow into capable adults ready to tackle any challenge life may throw at them.
How are Coding and Problem-solving Related?2
While there are a myriad benefits that children who learn to code gain, problem-solving is one of the most important skills among them. Children of all ages may learn to code, but starting early benefits them immensely since the processes become easier when the mind is still in its early stages.
Problem-solving by writing computer code is a hands-on approach that involves making errors, testing work, trials, and correcting mistakes.3 Coding encourages the breaking down of complex concepts and problems into manageable steps for children to better understand the problem. This in turn helps children measure their progress and adjust their thinking accordingly. Through coding, children learn self-reflection in a safe environment where they are allowed to examine their mistakes in the software and try to come up with solutions independently. This is important for children to internalize problem-solving skills.4
Problem-solving and coding go hand in hand, so read on to know how coding can help your children with their problem-solving skills. Coding encourages a structured approach to problem-solving.
1. Coding Encourages Children to Plan Ahead5
Planning is the first step to executing any idea with code, as children need to foresee problems that they might run into during a certain project. Proper planning will enable them to anticipate issues and devise potential solutions to predictable problems.
When faced with a coding challenge or a real-world problem, children must plan their approach because planning is an essential part of the problem-solving process.
Children learn to figure out what their goals are, where they are starting from, or where they are currently at, when they have a larger plan to work towards. So when they have a plan, they can brainstorm ideas for potential solutions and determine the best solution with the least negative consequences when a certain problem arises.
2. Coding Teaches Factoring5
The second step after planning a solution is factoring, or decomposition. In order to write any code effectively, children need to read instructions and learn several steps.
Factoring, or decomposition in computer science, is the breaking of a complex problem into parts that are easier to conceive, understand, program, and maintain.6 The ability to compose their thoughts and apply information they have read is critical as it plays a significant role in learning problem-solving.
It is similar to many toys like building blocks, robots, or Lego® sets. These toys come with instruction manuals where a complicated building process has been broken down into several simpler steps for your child to build on their own. It is important to understand how these small steps have to be taken one at a time to build the larger game. This is similar to coding, as it is important for children to decompose a process into smaller steps for a computer to understand.
When children learn decomposition, they will be able to eventually build more and more complicated projects, including their own videos, games, or other complex computer programs.
Decomposition is a crucial skill not only in coding but in the real world as well. From something as simple as building their own toys to writing an essay or solving a complicated math problem, children will benefit from the improved ability to break down tasks into smaller manageable chunks that can be addressed in a much less overwhelming manner.
3. Coding Builds Iterative Testing Skills7
In coding, iterative refers to a sequence of instructions or code being repeated until a specific end result is achieved through repeated review and testing.8 This process of testing every step instead of when the final project is completed allows mistakes to be caught earlier in the process.
While coding, children need to test their codes frequently, and this repeated testing of codes enhances their problem-solving skills to a great extent. As children become more proficient in their coding, they may improve the process by applying their critical thinking skills to design tests that help them learn more effectively.
Similar to factoring, iterative testing is applicable beyond just coding since many goals in life take multiple efforts, continuous work, and a long time to achieve, and you cannot wait until the end to see whether you are making progress.
4. Coding Teaches Debugging7
Once children have tested a code, if the test fails, they will have to debug their project. The process of trying to fix the bugs or the problems that the code has incurred is called debugging. Figuring out what is wrong when something is wrong is incredibly important in coding, as it is in any kind of problem-solving.
A well-planned and well-tested design makes it easy to spot bugs when they occur. With a good understanding of algorithms and their component parts, children can determine why the bug has occurred.
This will help children figure out how to arrive at the core of any problem and determine what possible solutions can be applied. When children learn to debug software, the real-world applications are endless, as are the real-time problem-solving skills that they develop.
Apart from these, learning to code teaches children self-reliance, confidence, and good communication skills, all of which are equally important to helping children learn problem-solving skills. Collaborative problem-solving is a part of regular group coding projects, which also enhance teamwork.
Coding teaches children all these micro-skills, which will enable them to problem solve in the real world as well. Remember, problem-solving is not a one-shot affair, and learning the skills comes with consistent effort, engagement, and practice. Coding teaches children exactly this!
To read more interesting articles on the benefits of coding, visit BYJU’S Future School blog.
- 3 ways coding teaches problem-solving to kids – LEAD School. (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://leadschool.in/blog/3-ways-coding-teaches-problem-solving-to-kids
- RoboGarden | How Coding and Problem Solving Are Interrelated. (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://playground.robogarden.ca/es/blog/how-coding-and-problem-solving-are-interrelated
- What Programming Teaches About Problem Solving – TechWise Academy. (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://techwiseacademy.com/programming-teaches-problem-solving/
- How coding helps children become creative problem solvers – Scholarcy | The long-form article summariser. (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.scholarcy.com/how-coding-helps-children-become-creative-problem-solvers/
- How does Coding develop problem-solving skills in kids? (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://skoolofcode.us/blog/coding-develop-problem-solving-skills/
- Decomposition (computer science). (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://hyperleap.com/topic/Decomposition_(computer_science)
- 6 Ways Coding is Teaching Kids Problem Solving Skills. (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://junilearning.com/blog/guide/ways-coding-teaches-kids-problem-solving/
- What is iterative? (n.d.). Retrieved May 6, 2022, from https://www.techtarget.com/searchsoftwarequality/definition/iterative