One of the most valuable skillsets we can teach our students is the ability to code. Not only does it enhance their writing and math skills, but it also gives them a valuable mindset for future life and employment situations.

Perhaps the top reason to teach our students how to code is that it gives them a strong basis for problem-solving and helps them understand the way things work. When taught in an age-appropriate way, it is never too early to start. In fact, children as young as five are good candidates to begin to play with these ideas. It gives them a way to look at problems, and if done correctly, allows them to experience positive failure on their way to success, and to think creatively towards that successful pathway.

According to, “Coding is a form of expression. It is a way to learn, share and build. It’s also an opportunity to be creative and create something out of nothing – with just the power of your mind and imagination.”

Fortunately, the ability to code among school-aged children is on the rise. Until recently, however, writing code was a very specialized skillset, and coding was generally taught at the university level, mostly because K-12 teachers did not have the fluency required to write code, let alone the ability to teach it.

That was then

Now, teachers don’t have to be fluent in the many coding languages in use today. They simply need to know where to find and administer the necessary courses, which are, thankfully, grade-specific and self-paced, with interactive curriculum that allows students to learn by creatively applying coding concepts to core subjects. Available curriculum includes game-based coding in JavaScript, Python and more.

Coding skills are fast becoming a requirement in many jobs that were once based on traditional skills. Professions like graphic artist, environmental scientist and business analyst are fast becoming code-dependent. And coding skills are significantly increasing the earnings potential of these fields.

Simply put, the ability to code is the ability to give instructions to a computing device, to tell it what to do. Coding, in whatever form, is speaking to the device in the language it understands. In a world populated and run by computing devices, the ability to tell those devices what to do may be the most valuable workplace skill and is certainly one of the most desirable. In fact, according to CodeSubmit, 40 million technical jobs worldwide go unfilled due to a lack of skilled talent, and the pressure to find coding talent in the U.S. is enormous.

But the pressure to code is not something that is unique to Americans. In Finland, the kinder, gentler nation with the education system we all admire, they now require coding from the time little Aapo and Kaisa begin school. Coding is a mandatory, cross-curricular activity that starts from the first year of school for every child. In primary education, coding is not a subject on its own, but rather it is viewed as a medium for getting things done, a tool for learning and examining other matters, and is integral in all learning. And just like in America, learning to code is age/grade specific and allows students to learn creatively by applying coding concepts to core subjects. The Finns are ahead of the curve on this, making it part of the national curriculum. But American schools are quickly closing the gap.

Just like in Finland, the most popular curriculum used in America is designed to teach students computational thinking and core computer science concepts. Students learn the fundamentals of programming found in all object-oriented programming languages. This makes it easy for students to understand abstract programming concepts but allows them to apply these concepts to different projects, games, and scenarios. Students learn programming concepts such as loops and variables, repetition, conditional logic, functions, computer drawing, and music. Students also acquire critical skills such as problem solving, pattern recognition, abstraction, algorithmic thinking, and automation.

Once students have a strong grasp of the fundamentals, they can transition to any mainstream programming language, such as JavaScript or Python. It makes it easy for children to progress into the specifics, because coding will no longer feel like a foreign language. They will already know the fundamentals and understand the way coding works, and why it is necessary. Code lays the groundwork for the world's technology. Learning to code has become an essential element of a child's education and a great way for them to express their creativity and imagination.

Coding, AKA computer science, is considered as important as Mathematics, Language Arts and Social Science by leading countries throughout the world. Many countries, such as Israel, are starting coding as early as kindergarten. In Singapore, computer science education became mandatory in 2020. The program, which was introduced in 2014 as “Coding for Fun,” was initially an enrichment program for primary and secondary students. In Australia, the government allocated $64 million to fund early learning and school STEM initiatives including coding under the Inspiring All Australians in Digital Literacy and STEM measure. In the United Arab Emirates, more than 90 percent of parents want to teach their kids coding and 35 percent of schools responded and started to implement coding classes for their students.

According to Tynker, a ten-year-old company whose curriculum is used in more than 100,000 schools around the world, “Learning to code is a great opportunity for children of all ages to develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, while building the necessary focus and organization to see projects through to completion. Coding usually begins with drag-and-drop visual programming in which children connect blocks together to make programs. Visual programming teaches the fundamental concepts without typing or syntax by placing the focus on the logic behind the code. Once they've learned the basics, children can transition to real-world programming languages like Python, JavaScript, and C. The best coding programs give children of all ages and experience levels the ability to code while making the process fun and engaging, empowering children to bring their imaginations to life.”

About the author


Currently serving as Chief Academic Officer, Chris is engaged with school leaders across the country working toward transforming teaching and learning experiences through a culture of entrepreneurialism and personalization, leveraging technology. His work with the Learning Counsel is to strengthen the services available to schools through oversight of the Learning Leadership Society as well as the Expo Achievement Schools and Hybrid Logistics Project professional networks, in addition to leading the Innovation Services division of the Learning Counsel.

Previously an assistant superintendent, principal, staff developer and classroom teacher, he combines his passion for teaching and learning with marketing and strategic development, to foster innovation in the education sector. Prior to entering education, Chris enjoyed a career in advertising as a creative director, then shifted to the information technology field to lead marketing and initiatives in new product development and strategic business alliances.