The first computer coding language was created in the 1940s. Today, coding is an integral part of everyday life. Every app on your phone, video you play on YouTube, or email you send uses different coding languages.Prepare your child for success: If you are looking for your child to learn to code, explore our live, teacher-led coding classes.
There are many reasons why kids should learn to code, but the most important one is that it’s fun! Coding allows kids to learn a new skill while being creative in unexpected ways.
With so many coding languages, though, it can be hard to figure out where your child should start. That’s why we put together the best kids coding languages so you can decide which one is the best starting place for your child.
List of The Best Coding Languages For Kids
|WHY IT’S BEST
|Graphic interface is fun and easy to use
|Younger kids who love video games
|Easy-to-learn syntax that’s also popular and powerful
|Kids who have a broad interest in technology and how programming works
|Versatile language that is heavily used with websites
|Kids who are all about making things interactive
|One of the most commonly taught languages in high school and colleges
|Teens preparing for AP Computer Science or who love Minecraft
|The languages behind many popular games and apps for kids
|Kids who are all about gaming, especially if they’re addicted to Roblox
|Use with the most widely-used operating system in the world
|Teens who are all about the Windows operating system
|Growing in popularity thatnks to its ties to Google
|Kids who have an interest in web development
|There’s an app dedicated to teaching how to use it
|Kids who love Apple devices
|It’s the language behind some big websites, including Twitter and Kickstarter
|Kids who dream of making the next big shopping or social platform
|Lots of real-world programming applications
|Teens who want to expand their coding language base
If your child already has any interest in coding, odds are they’re at least a little familiar with Scratch. This block-based programming language was created by MIT as a free resource to help teach kids the fundamentals of coding.
Scratch is the easiest code to learn because the visual interface is easy to understand and doesn’t require advanced typing skills. That is why CodeWizardsHQ starts elementary school coding classes with this language. Kids with no programming experience can quickly build a simple game in Scratch. Then they can customize it with different designs, characters, animations, and sounds.
The other benefit of Scratch is that there are many different Scratch games that your kids can play right now! Scratch lets you remix these existing games to make your own. Working on an existing game can be a great stepping stone to building a new game.
Python is a text-based programming language that can be used to create webpages, games, software, and much more. When compared to other text-based languages, Python is relatively simple to read and understand. That is why it’s a great option for kids.
Kids who aren’t really creative types might connect more with Python versus the block style of Scratch. Middle school students are at the right age to start their coding journey with Python. It’s also a great programming language for kids who started with Scratch but are ready for more of a challenge.
Python is a powerful language, which is why it is so in demand by employers. It’s also a great stepping stone to other languages. When learning Python, kids will be introduced to coding basics like loops, variables, and lists. This gives them a solid foundation for learning other coding languages in the future.
Recommended: Python Game Development for Kids
It has a very clear and consistent syntax, making it ideal for beginners.
4. Java (Minecraft)
Java has been around for decades and is still widely used. But odds are your child is most familiar with it because of Minecraft.
The popular MMO game is run on Java. The players are allowed to modify basically everything about the game, from landscapes to characters and everything in between.
The syntax of Java makes it more stable and easy to maintain than other languages, but it also makes it more difficult to learn. In general, Java is considered best for intermediate students or those who are at least in middle school. It may not be ideal for elementary school students who are learning to code.
Java is also the language that is used for AP Computer Science courses in high school. So, students who are interested in getting this AP credit would do well to learn Java.
5. Lua (Roblox)
Lua is the driving force behind Roblox, which as most parents know, is widely popular with kids. In general, Lua was created to be used in applications, which is why it’s often used with iOS and Android apps and games. In addition to Roblox, other popular games that use Lua include World of Warcraft and Angry Birds.
Lua uses a simple text-based syntax that is easy for beginners to learn and start using. If your child’s interest in coding is all about wanting to make their own games, Lua is a great place to start.
Recommended: Summer Roblox Camp for Kids
C# (pronounced C-sharp) is popularly used to create apps for Windows. It’s a programming language also used a lot in game development. Game developers often use it with the game engine Unity which allows users to interact with elements in 3D.
This language’s syntax is very similar to Java, so it’s ideal for older kids who are learning to code and for those who are particularly interested in developing games and apps specifically for Windows.
One of the newer programming languages on this list, Go (also referred to as Golang). It was created by Google engineers to solve the problem of needing to run many lines of code at the same time without sacrificing speed. The syntax is similar to C and it also has the benefit of signaling errors in code while you’re writing it versus when the code is being run.
In general, Go’s syntax is relatively easy to learn and it’s a great language to use for web development. For parents who are looking to give their kids a leg up in the future, Go is definitely worth considering thanks to its growing popularity.
The newest programming language on our list, Swift was created by Apple to develop apps for any device that runs iOS. Swift Playgrounds teaches users how to code using Swift and includes step-by-step lessons and challenges.
Swift Playgrounds is not as versatile as Scratch when it comes to customization and in general is recommended for kids ages 10 and up. For kids who are primarily interested in learning how to code for iPhones and iPads, or for schools that use iPads in the classroom, Swift is a great option and will likely continue to grow in popularity.
Ruby is most commonly used to create online applications quickly while still making them easy to scale to many users. Twitter, Shopify, Basecamp, and Kickstarter all use Ruby. It was created to be easy to learn and has similarities to Python with its syntax. While not as commonly used as Python, it is another programming language that is ideal for beginners.
C and C++ are also good options and similar as far as syntax, but C overall is less complicated to learn while C++ incorporates object-oriented programming and is much more involved. Games, animations, and graphic-based applications most often use C++ (Adobe products like Illustrator and Premier use this language) while C is commonly used to develop databases and operating systems.
C and C++ are more suited to older kids or those who already have coding experience. However, they are commonly used languages in the real world and would be a great addition to your student’s coding vocabulary.
What is a Programming Language?
At its most basic level, a programming language is a set of instructions that tell a computer to execute tasks. Every programming language has its own syntax (set of rules for how to write the language) that must be followed to successfully code with that language. Each language is classified as either low-level or high-level.
Low-level programming languages
These programming languages are written in a way that is similar to binary (the strings of 0’s and 1’s that computers understand). While they run quickly, they are difficult to learn.
Examples include: Machine Code or Assembly
High-level programming languages
These programming languages use words that are easier to read and understand. Most computers are now powerful enough that high-level languages don’t sacrifice much speed and can be used in most circumstances. We’ll be focusing on high-level languages here as those are the most ideal for kids.
What Makes a Kid-Friendly Programming Language?
The most important things to consider when choosing a coding language for your child:
- pick a language that is easy to learn
- pick a language that has real practical purposes
- pick a language that will serve them well in the future
Kids who are new to coding can get frustrated learning a language with complicated syntax rules, so make sure to start them with a language that teaches them the foundations of coding before moving on to other languages.
In addition to choosing a programming language that is easy to learn, choosing one that has practical applications will encourage your child to want to continue their coding journey. If they can create a simple game or website relatively quickly, it will be easier for them to understand the benefits of what they’re learning and get excited about learning more.
Recommended: 200+ Programming Terms for Kids
Learn the Top Kids Coding Languages
No matter which language you choose for your child’s introduction to coding, what’s most important is getting them started. Programming classes are still hard to find in most school systems. As a result, just giving your child the opportunity to learn coding will put them ahead of many of their peers. Coding education serve them well both academically and in many different careers (you don’t have to be a developer to use code).
Ultimately, there is no single best programming language for kids! All of these languages have their benefits and will give your child a solid foundation in coding basics so they can take their skills wherever their imagination leads them.