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Coding teaches persistence, logical thinking and creativity
Katie Stalter


Many times, things just don’t work out the first time. It takes that trial and error to learn how to get it right.

This is perhaps the most valuable lesson that comes from learning to code. However, it can be a very difficult lesson – especially for students who are neurodiverse or who have other learning differences.

Mary Bless, library media specialist at Miriam Lower/Middle School, said she starts coding with even the youngest students. The younger classes use education.com, but they usually start with offline work with step-by-step directions and movements.

Older Miriam students use code.org, and they begin learning about debugging – or fixing mistakes in the code. “I try to reinforce the idea that the way we learn is to make mistakes,” Bless said. “I set the expectation that it will be challenging, and they should expect to make mistakes.”

Some students really struggle with the trial-and-error approach. Bless tries to make coding as accessible as possible for students by providing the extra support needed or letting students solve problems as a group. She believes coding is valuable enough that the extra support is necessary. 

Some adaptations that might help students with special needs include coding with the use of visual blocks, voice-activated coding, physical coding (using hardware components), and gamification.

“The trial and error that inherently happens with coding is very beneficial for kids who learn differently,” Bless said. “It’s engaging enough that they will hopefully continue to try, even if they experience frustration.”

Bless hopes this persistence will carry over to other aspects of their schooling and life that might be challenging.

Early exposure to coding can also help develop logical thinking skills, as well as foster creativity, innovation and confidence. For older students, coding and other computer learning can provide practical skills that could lead to employment options post-high school.

Gratitude

Wishing you a very happy holiday season! The holidays of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa this month offer a sense of seasonal joy, hope, community, tradition and affirmation of what is truly important. We long for family and friends to create sweet moments together and reminisce on times gone by.

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