Coding for kids – everything you need to know

A macroscopic view of the world of coding and how it is relevant to present day’s early education.

This is probably going to be one of our longest blogs. And why not? We have not only attempted to study the sphere of coding skills multiple lenses, but the research that we are going to be talking about here has shaped a large part of what we do.


1. Coding statistics for early childhood education
Around 35% of coders wrote their first line of code when they were 13 or younger
8 out of 10 parents feel computer programming is as important math, science, history, and English
3.8 million users on ScratchJr are 13 or younger

2. How large tech companies are spearheading education programs in coding
Google’s CS First program
Amazon Future Engineer
Initiatives at Apple Inc.
CodeFWD by Meta
Microsoft’s programs

3. Role of various nations in introducing coding skills at schools

4. Research that highlights the impact and importance of coding skills in early childhood education

The result of reading this article? A genuine chance at developing an overall understanding of coding as a foundational skill in early childhood.


Coding, more formally known as computer programming, enables communicating with computers. A code, or a set of programs, is a set of instructions, telling the computer what to do. Simply stated, it is the language in which one can create an executable program.

Coding has existed for centuries.[1] Those who are fond of history would remember the role of Morse code in shaping wartime communication.[2] With the advent and spurt of computer technology, coding is evolving at a rapid pace.

In this document, we shall examine the multiple facets of coding, and bring forth actionable insights, so that these can be translated into the creation of early childhood programs centred around coding.

Coding Statistics

Coders are getting younger

StackOverflow, a question and answer website for professional and enthusiast programmers, with over 17 million users worldwide[3], conducted a survey in 2020 to determine the age of the participants when they wrote their first line of code.

The survey gathered responses from 65,000 software developers from 186 countries around the world. Out of 57,900 respondents for a question about age, a staggering 34.9% were found to be aged 13 or younger.[4]

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Parents think coding is cool

A survey by Google in 2016, in association with Gallup, found that out of 1686, 84% of parents of children studying in grades 7 to 12 in the U.S., stated that offering computer science in school is more important than or just as important as required courses like math, science, history and English.[5]

Scratchers around the world

ScratchJr is a free programming application for young children, developed by the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT, and the Playful Invention Company, in 2014.

It is the largest coding community for children. As per the statistics published by ScratchJr in March 2022, 38,531,264 users’ registered age is 13 or below, with most users’ registered age being 12.[6] The application is available in more than 200 countries and over 70 languages.[7]

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Before proceeding to shed light on the supply side of coding as a foundational skill in young children, based on the above statistics, we can conclude that it is in high demand. It is imperative that all stakeholders – governments, education boards, large tech companies, school teachers, and parents, must encourage the adoption of coding as a foundational skill among children.

The Big Five on Coding for Early Learners 

Looking at how the tech giants – Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Meta (Facebook), and Microsoft, are contributing to the building of an ecosystem that enables young children to learn computer programming or coding in or out of school.

Alphabet (previously Google)

Google has undertaken a multi-year study of perspectives and challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools with Gallup.[8] This gives much-needed insight into the current situation in U.S. schools concerning coding as a part of the curriculum, prompting authorities and education boards to act upon it.

Google has introduced a program called ‘CS First’ that enables teachers to teach, and learners to learn coding with multiple lessons whose duration ranges from one hour to twelve hours each.[9] 

Google claims that CS First has reached 2M+ learners, 70K+ teachers, and 100+ countries in 6 languages.[10]


Amazon Future Engineer is a comprehensive childhood-to-career program aimed at increasing access to computer science education for children and young adults. Amazon claims that this program is a big part of its $50 million investment in computer science over the next five years.

It has also made donations worth more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the U.S.[11] The program is currently being offered in six countries – Canada, France, Germany, India, the U.K., and the U.S.[12]

Besides this, the Amazon Future Engineer program is funding Coding with Kids scholarships for students with financial needs. Coding with Kids is a computer science academy for ages 5-16. They conduct summer camps and after-school classes in multiple U.S. cities and offer live online classes that can be taken from anywhere.[13]


Apple is not far behind any of the tech giants in contributing toward coding in early childhood education. Apple’s ‘Today at Apple’ is an initiative at Apple retail stores to educate and inspire visitors. One of the programs of this initiative is Coding Skills, which is open to anyone aged 12 and above.[14]

Apple’s Everyone Can Code Early Learners is a curriculum for learners in kindergarten through third grade to discover and play, to build a foundation in core coding concepts using the Swift Playgrounds app on iPad.[15] The curriculum is very lucid and covers the conceptual basics of commands, functions, loops, and variables in coding.[16]

Meta (previously Facebook)

In 2018, Meta announced the launch of CodeFWD – a free online education program where educators and organizations introduce computer programming to students in grades 4 through 8.[17]

Facebook has also launched several other educational programs for children studying in higher grades, and also for higher education.[18]


Microsoft MakeCode is a free online learn-to-code platform where anyone can build games, code devices, and mod a popular online game – Minecraft.[19]

DigiGirlz programs by Microsoft give middle and high school girls opportunities to learn about careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops.[20]]  More than 65,000 students have attended the Microsoft DigiGirlz Technology Programs (both camps and one-day events) since they began in 2000.[21]

These initiatives by large tech companies to make coding more accessible for children around the world have certainly catalysed the process of adopting coding and computer science as foundational skills in and out of schools.

Countries on Coding in Early Childhood Education

Similar to large tech companies, governments have realised the need and importance of making coding a part of their education system.

  • Launched in 2016, Computer Science for All was then President, Barack Obama’s initiative to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with computational thinking skills. The initiative called for $4 billion in funding for states and $100 million directly for school districts.[22]
  • A blog article from 2015, published by Microsoft, titled ‘Europe stands at the threshold of computer science education’, states that ‘Estonia has coding in the curriculum, and Greek children learn informatics from age 9.’ and that ‘England has most wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity’, by establishing a new subject of Computing, a title that embraces computer science alongside a continued emphasis on the thoughtful use and application of computers.[24]
  • ‘Digital Education at School in Europe’ a study published in 2019, by Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, states that ‘Half of the European education systems are currently reforming the curriculum related to digital competence. The revisions aim either at introducing digital competence into the curriculum where it had not previously been addressed or making the subject area more prominent. Some reforms are also about changing the curriculum approach, updating content or strengthening particular areas such as coding, computational thinking or safety.’[25]  
  • There are many examples of Computer Science education programs taking place in Africa. For example, the Ghana Code Club is a weekly after-school coding club that has trained more than 1,700 students and 300 teachers across 100 centres, and Teencoders, based in Nigeria, has reached over 5,000 students through after-school and weekend coding classes.[26] 
  • Due to their strength in the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) industry, countries such as Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China have launched national curricular reforms to address the current movement of CT (Computational Thinking) education in K-12 education.[27]
  • The Ministry of Education, India had introduced the New Education Policy (NEP) in 2020 which announced the initiation of classes on coding for students from class 6 onwards.[28]
  • When a survey of over 400 Australian schools in 2019 found that there is a shortage of teachers who feel qualified to teach coding, three computer science enthusiasts founded ‘CS in Schools.’[29] It is a free of cost initiative to help schools create relevant and meaningful education by building industry connections with schools, providing a complete DigiTech pathway for all secondary students, and developing teacher confidence to teach digital technology. In 2022, CS in Schools plans to work with 64+ schools, 250+ teachers, and 15,000+ students in every state and territory across Australia.[30]

Gauging Impact through the Lens of Research 

Due to the dynamic nature of coding and computer science, a lot of research is available in this subject area. We shall pick the ones that provide a diversified view of the learning impacts coding has on children.

What children learn when they learn coding?

A study investigated the performance of 57 kindergarten through second-grade children on a programming assessment after engaging in a 6-week curricular intervention. At the end of the learning intervention, children were assessed on their knowledge of the ScratchJr language and underlying reasoning. Specifically, the researchers explored children’s errors on the assessment to determine evidence of domain-specific reasoning (e.g. mathematic, verbal, causal).

Results showed that while all students mastered foundational coding concepts, there were marked differences in performance and comprehension across the three grade levels.[31]

Coding develops children’s skills in the scientific process

A study conducted with 30 children aged five who studied in an independent kindergarten connected to the Ministry of National Education in Refahiye district of Erzincan province in Eastern Turkey, found that robotic coding education, developed children’s skills in the scientific process.[32]

Coding for children with special needs

Special education students are in a disadvantaged situation in coding as in other learning platforms.

A study in 2021 was conducted using computer-free coding applications, with the participation of 34 students having mild intellectual disabilities, who are continuing their education in a special education vocational school, aged between 14 and 18. While the average score of the students’ problem-solving skills was 10.68 pre-course, the post-course score increased to 13.36.

The analysis of the findings showed that the students’ skill scores in using problem-solving steps have increased.[33]

Coding improves planning and inhibition skills in children

One-hundred seventy-nine (179) first-graders from five schools and ten class groups, with no prior experience in coding, were randomly assigned to an experimental (coding, 5 classes) or control (standard STEM, 5 classes) instructional condition.

The experimental intervention involved 8 hours of coding activities (two weekly lessons for 4 weeks), through the platform. Children in the control group were exposed to standard STEM instruction.

Four coding tasks were drawn from, two standardized planning tasks, and two standardized response inhibition tasks.

The results showed that practice with coding through not only improved measurably children’s ability to solve coding problems, but also their executive functions, increasing the time children spent planning, their ability to solve standardized planning tasks, and inhibiting prepotent responses.[34]

Coding has a significant effect on mathematical reasoning skills in children

A study was conducted with 29 children (17 in the experiment group and 12 in the control group) aged between 57 – and 68 months attending a public kindergarten in Adana, Turkey. A Coding Education Program prepared by the researchers was administered to the children in the experimental group while the children in the control group received the regular program.

Results showed that there was no significant difference between the experimental and the control group in the pre-test, whereas a significant difference in favour of the experimental group was observed in the post-test. it was determined that the coding activities have a significant effect on the mathematical reasoning skills of children.[35]

The multi-faceted nature of coding

A study in 2018 reviewed research to analyse educational outcomes for children learning to code at school. A systematic review was applied to identify relevant articles and thematic analysis to synthesise the findings. Ten articles were included in the synthesis and an overarching model was developed which depicts the themes.

The results demonstrate that although students are learning to code, a range of other educational outcomes can be learnt or practised through the teaching of coding. These included mathematical problem-solving, critical thinking, social skills, self-management and academic skills.[36]

Impact of teacher gender

A sample of 105 children from six classrooms (2 kindergarten, 2 first-grade, and 2-second grade classes) from a public school in Somerville, Massachusetts, participated in the research, conducted in 2018.

Children were taught the same robotics curriculum by either an all-male or all-female teaching team. Upon completion of the curriculum, they completed programming knowledge assessments called Solve-Its. Comparisons between the performance of boys and girls in each of the teaching groups were made.

Findings indicated the preliminary evidence that having a female instructor may positively impact girls’ performance on certain programming tasks and reduce the number of gender differences between boys and girls in their mastery of programming concepts.[37]


With the number of children learning how to code on the rise, more parents wanting their children to learn to code, large tech companies running global initiatives to impart coding education to young children, countries revamping their curricula to adopt coding as a crucial part of the education system, and favourable results through multiple research studies, it is but evident that globally enabling coding as a foundational skill in children today is what will build tomorrow.

1.History of programming languages
2.Morse code
3.Stack Exchange
4.Stack Overflow Developer Survery 2020
5.Trends in the State of Computer Science in U.S. K-12 Schools – 2016
6.Scratch Statistics
7.About Scratch
8.Current Perspectives and Continuing Challenges in Computer Science Education in U.S. K-12 Schools
9.Google for Education: CS First Curriculum
10.Google for Education: About CS First
11.Amazon Future Engineer Program: FAQ
12.Amazon Future Engineer Global Sites
13.Coding with Kids
14.Apple Education — Coding Skills: Getting Started with Swift Playgrounds
15.Apple Education — Teaching Code
16.Apple Education — Everyone Can Code Early Learners (Teacher Guide)
17.Meta — CodeFWD
18.Meta for Education — Enabling learning communities
19.Microsoft Coding Education
20.Microsoft DigiGirlz
21.Microsoft News — Microsoft announces this year’s international digital camp for girls in science
22.Obama White House Archives — Computer Science For All
23.Policies and Practices for Teaching Computer Science in Latin America
24.Microsoft — Europe stands at the threshold of computer science education
25.Digital Education at School in Europe — Eurydice Report
26.Africa in Focus — Computer science can help Africans develop skills of the future
27.Computational Thinking Education in the Asian Pacific Region
28.Hindustan Times — New Education Policy 2020: Integration of Coding and analytical thinking from the schooling level
29.CS in Schools: Developing a sustainable Coding Programme in Australian Schools
30.CS in Schools: Impact
31.What they learn when they learn coding: investigating cognitive domains and computer programming knowledge in young children
32.Effect of coding and robotic education on pre-school children’s skills of scientific process
33.The Effect of Unplugged Coding Education for Special Education Students on Problem-Solving Skills
34.The effects of coding on children’s planning and inhibition skills
35.Effect of coding activities on preschool children’s mathematical reasoning skills
36.Learning to code or coding to learn? A systematic review
37.The Impact of Teacher Gender on Girls’ Performance on Programming Tasks in Early Elementary School

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