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By Wendy McAuliffe
When it comes to learning foreign languages, early starts help. My three-year-old bears this out; she can rattle off a
bunch of Spanish phrases picked up effortlessly from Dora. In the early years, brains aren’t wired to one particular language like in adulthood. This elasticity of learning seems to allow for picking up coding skills too.
Alasdair Blackwell, director and developer of Decoded, a one day workshop designed to teach anyone to code, says: ‘Children can pick up programming languages quickly, but at an early age they won’t so much be learning programming languages, but rather the visual principles of programming.’ Although he admits that coding is something that one needs to ‘keep up’, the advantages of starting young are that ‘children will remember core concepts and principles, and benefit from learning the foundations early on.’
Code Clubs are already springing up across the UK, aiming to give primary school children a grounding in programming. Professionals run these courses on a voluntary basis using the programming environment Scratch. ‘They can get children quite a long way,’ says Blackwell.