No, coding is not hard to learn. However - like anything new - it's not easy to start, and how difficult a time one has with learning to code will vary across a number of factors.
The point is, learning to code isn't impossible; or, it's not as impossible as it might seem when it comes to getting your kids involved.
While learning might require them to tap into areas with which they don’t have prior familiarity, those who have the time, persistence, and dedication can start gaining coding experience just as they can learn to do something else.
Meaning, plenty of people know how to code, leading many of those who are proficient in coding to launch the things we all enjoy using on a daily basis—from our apps, games, websites, robots, social media, and much more.
Bottom line, learning how to do anything new is typically going to be hard, and that’s what makes those who know how to do that something special.
Then why the resistance?
So if coding isn’t impossibly difficult, why does that perception exist?
Well for starters, coding is a hot, relevant topic. No offense to anyone who juggles, but it’s just not an activity you hear about on a daily basis. So, it could be the constant reminder that “coding is important” but yet “we need more coders” that makes coding seem like a difficult task.
From there, all you have to do is throw coding against any of the points listed out in the intro above in order to start seeing that coding might not be that intimidating after all.
“Coding is hard because it’s new”
Coding is thought to be hard because it’s new to pretty much all of us. Adults went to school learning about all the things they thought they’d ever need to learn about, and coding wasn’t one of those things.
And for kids and teens still in school today, coding isn’t taught most places, so if they need to find alternative opportunities just to gain experience in this thing called coding, it must be pretty difficult, right?
Wrong. Learning to code isn’t available in many schools for a variety of reasons, ranging from school budget restrictions, curriculum inflexibility, lack of teaching resources, and more. Not to mention that if coding was too difficult to learn, you wouldn’t have kids attending coding camps, and if coding was too difficult to teach, you wouldn’t have online coding classes, etc.
“Coding is hard because it’s different”
Coding is thought to be hard because it’s a different type of skill; and “different” in the sense that it’s unlike anything most of us have ever experienced before.
Meaning, if you want to learn guitar, you know what’s required of you—you have this instrument and you need to master how your fingers interact with its strings. You want to learn to juggle? You know you need to simultaneously throw and catch objects.
But learning to code? It’s a little difficult to grasp what’s involved. You might know about the different kids coding languages, and what code looks like, etc., but the other 90% is very different.
Still, though—it doesn’t make it harder to learn...if anything it might make it harder to get started to learn, but once you’re in it, it’s like anything else...feels weird and different at first, but the deeper you dive, the more familiar you become, and the easier it gets to grasp the task at hand.
“Coding is hard because it takes time (and persistence)”
Sure, but what doesn’t take time? You can agree or disagree with Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that it takes 10,000 hours to master your craft, but the point remains the same—learning something takes time.
A lot of that time is spent overcoming mini-challenges along the way to mastery, which requires persistence of those wanting to reach the end goal. In fact, you can say that just because something requires persistence doesn’t make that thing hard to learn, but really, it makes it all the more useful.
With coding, specifically, learning the core skill provides amazing benefits, but it’s the journey; the trial and error and hurdle jumping that make the whole experience all the more useful. It's definitely an area where you wouldn't think about enlisting the help of a coding tutor or mentor, but doing so could be valuable.
“Coding is hard because there are a lack of related resources”
It’s no mistake I started with coding being new/different and ended with this bit on resources. It all ties together in the fact that just because something isn’t served on a silver platter or presented in bright lights doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
So, just because coding isn’t taught in many schools doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t be learning it. Likewise, just because we as parents don’t know how to code, or your child’s teachers at school don’t know how to code doesn’t mean there isn’t anyone capable of teaching it. Similarly, just because the bulk of your child’s friends aren’t learning to code doesn’t mean they don’t want to, or that one of them isn’t.
Point is, learning to code and finding the opportunities to do so is going to take a bit of digging. It’s not Little League. It’s not karate. It’s not something most kids grow up doing just yet.
It doesn’t make it any more difficult to learn, it’s just that the resources might take a different form than what you’re generally used to as a parent. As mentioned above...summer camps, online learning, self-teaching, and researching. The resources and opportunities are out there.
To help get your child pointed in the right direction, here are a few additional posts:
Is Coding a Good Career?: The answer totally depends on your unique situation, but if kids enjoy it and want a career with opportunity and good pay, then coding can definitely be a good career.
Coding for Kids: Reasons kids should get started with coding, and how they can find success.
Coding for Teens: Sure, getting started early in anything has its advantages, but going about it as a teen is also valuable. See why!
Kids Coding Languages: Perhaps the biggest roadblock for most wanting to get started with coding—what language should they begin with? This guide should help!
Coding Terminology: As is the case with any new language, those hoping to master it will need to become familiar with new terms and lingo.
How to Improve Your Coding Skills: 6 easy steps to gain coding experience and improve skills (and interest).