|For young children, literacy and numeracy are the most important skills to learn at school. If a child can read, write and do sums to a decent standard, they should be well-placed to succeed in life. But things have changed in recent years thanks to the digital revolution. Technology has become a key player in so many aspects of people’s lives – so being able to both use it and understand it is now crucial for youngsters if they want to get ahead.
It’s a situation that hasn’t been lost on many education professionals and experts and there are growing calls for computer coding to be added to the national curriculum. Even toddlers are adept at using tablets, smartphone apps and laptops – and they’ll almost certainly have to use technology in later life when they try to forge a successful career. As a result, some are arguing that computer coding is now up there with reading, writing and arithmetic as a key skill kids must possess.
For example, Head of the Online North East Education Forum, Lesley Robinson believes the ability to code is gradually becoming a highly sought-after skill. “While once it was a skill used by coders alone, it is now in much wider use, and is increasingly a skill that is sought after by employers, particularly those in the creative industries,” she commented.
Dr Wendy Allen, Principal of Discovery School in Newcastle upon Tyne, added that coding skills are vital even for those who have no intention of becoming software engineers or working in the computer industry. This, she said, is because it encourages “computational thinking.” “Coding combines maths, logic and algorithms,” she observed. “Computational thinking will teach a student how to tackle a large problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems. I think this skill becomes useful in almost any job, even if it has nothing to do with computing.”
Get kids on board with technology
Of course, some schools are already doing their bit to teach kids coding skills, such as setting up special coding clubs and inviting experts to speak to them about how it could be useful in the future. Consider distributing magnets printed with details & dates to remember; pupils can stick them on the fridge at home to remind parents when they may be home late. Computer Shaped Sticky Notes could act as another useful reminder. And there’s much more schools can do to create an environment where technology is promoted and integrated into pupils’ everyday lives.
Use technology at every opportunity
Gadgets such as laptops, software to edit images and videos and applications such as Skype could easily be included in all sorts of subjects. If children are set a specific task and required to use technology to solve it, they’re likely to be engaged with the job at hand and will develop some useful IT skills along the way.
Include spreadsheets in maths lessons
Many businesses use spreadsheets on programmes like Microsoft Excel to juggle complicated figures and budget effectively. So why not show children how to use these resources to help them with a maths project? It could stand them in good stead for the future, as tasks such as managing their finances and knowing how to budget properly will become second nature to them – both at work and at home.
Set up a class blog
Kids could upload all sorts of written content and pictures to a classroom blog. It’d be a fun way of boosting their technology and creative skills and showing off their work and successes. Parents in particular would find it a great means of keeping in touch with what their children are up to.
Schools could complement their efforts to promote technology and show they take the issue seriously by offering branded accessories alongside each device. For instance, a school’s name and logo could easily be added to USB Hubs and Mousemats, along with a few useful tidbits of information.
Many teachers, governors and parents recognise the growing importance of technology as a learning tool as well as a subject in its own right. Schools that introduce initiatives to leverage the power of computer coding and other technology should help pupils to succeed in our increasingly digital world.