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Choose the Best Programming Language for Your Child

Choose a Programming Language for Your Child

Thousands of languages and dialects are spoken around the world each day. And while there aren’t quite as many programming, or coding, languages, with hundreds of options from which to choose, it can be hard to determine which one is best for your child.

What is a programming language?

A programming language is a specific, coded language used to convey instructions to a machine—in most cases, a computer. Because machines work in a specific way, programmers must use formal languages to communicate with computers and develop software programs, express algorithms, or provide specific instructions.

The better a programmer understands one of these languages (including its syntax and grammar), the more likely they are able to get the computer to accomplish exactly what they want in the quickest amount of time.

So, of all languages, which are good choices for kids? Here is a breakdown of the various options from which your child can choose. Keep in mind, while there are some things you can do to accelerate the process and learn programming fast, relatively, it’s not unlike other interests and crafts, and requires dedication and iterations to reach your goals.

Best Programming Languages for Kids

Scratch & Other visual programming languages:

Best to get kids excited about coding

With visual programming languages like Scratch, kids can drag and drop code blocks to animate characters, create games, and build apps. While visual languages don’t teach the syntax necessary in most other coding languages, they provide a solid foundation of programming principles.

Best of all, their simplicity gets kids excited about coding! Visual programming languages can be used to make interactive stories, games, and animations.

Great for:

  • Kids who don’t have programming experience
  • Showing kids how fun coding can be
  • Teaching basic concepts, like problem solving and if-then thinking

What your child could create at iD Tech:

A fun animated game or story!

Featured courses:

 
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Download our 2018 brochure to learn more about getting your child started with programming. Or, continue reading about the different language options!

JavaScript

Best for reaching a web audience

JavaScript is an object-oriented and procedural programming language that’s used for front-end or client-facing applications, meaning its actions are executed on the user’s computer.

The language is very popular, supported by many users (and jobs!), and is native on all web browsers. JavaScript is most commonly used to make complex and interactive web applications.

Though their names sound similar, Java and JavaScript are two very different coding languages (see the next section).

Great for:

  • Students who are interested in web development and design
  • Kids who want to start learning the fundamentals of programming

What your child could create at iD Tech:

A web-based, two-dimensional game!

Featured courses:

 
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Java

Best for intermediate students

Java is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world, with analysts saying that about 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies leverage Java. So it’s a great option for students who want a rich understanding of code that can be built upon for years to come.

Java is a statically typed language, meaning it requires you to specify a variable type. While this means that apps built with Java are known to be more scalable, stable, and maintainable, it also means that Java can take longer to master than other languages.

Java can be used to make game engines, Android mobile apps, large backend environments, and much more.

Great for:

  • Intermediate coders who want to strengthen their skill set
  • Kids who want to learn Java principles through a fun game like Minecraft
  • Teens who are preparing to take the Computer Science AP Exam
  • Teens who want to develop a strong understanding of programming concepts
  • Patient students who don’t mind taking time to learn the language’s syntax

What your child could create at iD Tech:

A text-based game, app, or graphical program, depending on the course!

Featured courses:

 
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Python

Best for beginners (and for versatility!)

Named after the comedy series Monty Python, Python is considered one of the easiest coding languages to learn, in part because of its simplified syntax and focus on whitespace. Python requires fewer lines of code to get up and running, so even beginners can start creating relatively quickly.

Companies like Google and Disney use Python, and it’s very popular in scientific fields, where individuals are scientists first and programmers second. This language can be used to create video games, web frameworks, and many scientific and numeric computing projects.

Python is also versatile enough to be used in intricate fields like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Now that’s a flexible and powerful language!

Great for:

  • Kids and teens who want to get their ideas up and running in little time
  • Creating easy-to-read code that looks a lot like regular English
  • Students interested in pursuing scientific fields, especially AI

What your child could create at iD Tech:

A text-based game, a two-dimensional game, a console application, or a cybersecurity program.

Featured courses:

 
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C++

Best for a deeper understanding

Pronounced “see plus plus,” this programming language is used to create applications that run locally on machines such as your computer.

Despite the time and complexity required to learn C++, this language will provide teens with a very deep understanding of programming. C++ can be used to create systems software, games, and a variety of other programs.

Great for:

  • Teens who want a complex understanding of programming principles
  • Students who want to program in the gaming industry
  • Your student’s résumé—jobs expect programmers to have a level of familiarity with C++

What your child could create at iD Tech:

A text-based game, a two-dimensional game, or a console application.

Featured courses:

 
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Download our 2018 brochure to learn more about getting your child started with programming. Or, continue reading about the different language options!

C#

Best for learning to program while making 3D games

Pronounced “see sharp,” C# is an extremely popular programming language that’s used to develop most third-party applications for Windows. It’s the fourth most in-demand programming language for jobs, and can be a great starting language for people who are new to coding.

Syntactically, C# is very similar to Java, so experience in using one of these languages will make it easier to pick up the other. C# has even been called the Microsoft clone of the Java language. It can be used to create web applications, games, and other programs.

Great for:

  • Students who are interested in creating applications for Windows
  • Teens who have Java experience and are looking to learn a similar language

What your child could create at iD Tech:

We leverage C# in the Unity environment to teach your teen how to create a video game without having to create most of the elements from scratch.

Featured courses:

So with all of that, how do you go about making your coding language selection?

How to choose the right programming language

Summary:

  • Choose based on output
  • Choose based on transferability
  • Choose based on skill level
  • Just choose

 
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Details:

Many students are required to study a foreign language at some point in their academic career. So how do you decide which foreign language to choose? Will it be Spanish or German? Mandarin or Cantonese? Or maybe even Swahili?

Choosing the right programming language for your child is similar. Here are some of the ways you can go about it!

Choose based on output

If your child is planning for a long vacation in Germany, he might want to study German. Similarly, if your child dreams of designing video game elements, he might want to study C++ or Blueprints, which is Unreal Engine’s visual coding language.

Choose based on transferability

People often recommend studying the romance languages, as they all come from the same root language, and learning one of these languages can make it easier to learn the others. Similarly, sometimes learning one programming language, like Java, can set you up to learn others more quickly and efficiently down the line.

Choose based on skill level

Learning to write in Spanish, which features an English-like alphabet and grammatical structure, is much easier than learning to write Japanese kanji, which includes thousands of unique characters.

Likewise, learning a coding language like Python is great for beginners, as it’s easier to get up and running without worrying as much about syntax.

Just choose

Sometimes there’s no clear direction on what language your child should start out using. That’s okay! Students can learn important programming principles from any coding language, so you don’t need to worry about choosing the wrong one. If your child is interested in coding, just let her get started!

This summer, give your child a creative edge!

There are numerous reasons why kids and teens should learn to code. Improve your child’s computational thinking skills, creativity, and if-then reasoning with a week of programming instruction at an iD Tech summer program, with nearly 30 summer programming courses for kids and teens ages 7–18, spanning many coding languages.

While this guide should give you a good understanding of which programming languages might be the best fit for your child, remember that when in doubt—just choose!

Every one of these languages will help students better understand programming principles and get excited about coding. For more help selecting a course, you can reach out to our Camp Specialists. They love helping parents like you every day!

 

 

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