So, let’s dive into a few of the major terms your kids and teens are likely to encounter as they first embark upon their coding journey.

Programming

Does your son or daughter have a dog? Has your family tried to train that dog?

The goal being, of course, is that you reach a point where you give a command and the dog responds appropriately based on your instruction. “Sit.” “Stay.” “Roll over.”

When it comes time for your kids to write a program, or program, they are doing much of the same. They, as the “owner,” are communicating a set of commands to a computer, with the expectation that the computer will respond accordingly.

Of course, the difference here is that, instead of sternly vocalizing those instructions with a liver-flavored treat hidden in their hand, kids will be writing instructions in a language that kind of resembles familiar English, but has a few additional parameters and rules.

Yes, training a dog is difficult, but take comfort in the fact that if your child’s programming command is given correctly, the computer will always listen. Success with a dog could hinder on the presence or absence of a nearby, pesky squirrel.

Programming is the foundation of robotics, video games, apps, computer graphics, and much more. And, every one of these programs is a set of instructions; a sequence of short commands, one after another, with programming used as the tool to write and disseminate those individual instructions.

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Programming language

Based on the above, the crux of programming is the associated language. In order to converse with a computer, you need to speak in terms it understands.

First, think about the English language. We have words, but we also have punctuation. There are also different rules and guidelines around when you should use a particular form of a word, and when you should opt for another.

A programming language, then is made up of its own vocabulary and set of rules—the difference is, each language is based on its own unique syntax (grammatical structure) and semantics (meaning).

And yes, “each” language—as in there are multiple programming languages; each with their own rules and use cases.

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Scratch programming

We started by defining programming, and then talking about what a programming language is.

While there are many, many other coding terms to define, it’s useful to take a look at a term like Scratch programming, that represents a big piece of what your child might encounter as they’re first getting started.

Scratch is a MIT-developed graphical programming language, based on drag-and-drop programming basics so kids can easily create interactive stories, comics, and more.

Scratch programming is popular for kids because instead of using lines of code, youth users learn though colorful command coding blocks and cartoon sprites. This means that without typing a single line of code, kids can get their feet wet with programming statements and computational ideas, and begin to test their limits of creative thinking in order to problem-solve.

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