Unplugged to Debugged: coding in the early years.

Bringing coding to the early years seems like a big step as the Early Learning Goal for technology narrowly states that young children should use technology for a particular purpose. It’s one strand of the curriculum where practitioners may be less confident in working that cross-curricular, linked-learning best practice that we are the true experts of.

To bring coding to the early years we need to better understand what coding is and how the skills of a good coder are related to the skills we are developing across the areas of learning.

The Cornerstones of Coding

Being good at coding is more than inputing commands in sequence. Good coders are actually good problem solvers. Coding is a process underpinned by the skills of:

  • Pattern Spotting and Sequencing
  • Breaking larger problems down in to small steps (Decomposition)
  • Looking for mistakes and correcting them (debugging)
  • Making predications based on prior knowledge (Logical Reasoning)
  • Testing out ideas (Evaluating)
  • Playing around (Tinkering – yes that’s a technical term too!)

Looking at this list of skills and the definitions, I immediately see a link to The Characteristics of Effective Learning.

Screenshot 2019-01-12 at 15.36.17.png

 

For readers who are new to the Early Years Foundation Stage in England, you can view the 2019 profile handbook here and read about The Characteristics of Effective Learning which underpin all learning for birth to 5 year olds here (page 22).

 

Continue reading

Advertisements

Getting Started with Code

“Early Learning Goal: Technology. Children recognise that a range of technology is used in places such as homes and schools. They select and use technology for particular purposes.”

Early Years Outcomes, 2016

The Early Learning Goal for Technology is limited in Early Years Outcomes and often practitioners feel lost at developing this area of learning. What we forget when reading the Early Learning Goal for technology, is that our curriculum is best taught cross-curricularly. The technology goal is a prompt to make us consider how best to teach technology skills through other areas of learning; just like we do with English and Maths!

The real problem is, what are these links to other areas?

First, you need to decide which part of the Early Learning Goal we are trying to teach. Do you want children to use technology to enhance other skills (by using video, animation, photography, audio recording etc.) or do you want to teach computational thinking skills which will lead in to programming, problem solving and algorithms? Most likely, we sway towards multi-media skills because we are more confident with that than we are with code! But we really should put more emphasis on coding across our curriculum as the Technology strand will lead in to this area in Key Stage 1.

Continue reading