Programming for Kids: A Guide for Parents and Teachers

Nisha Talagala
2 min readFeb 2, 2021

I am a software engineer and the mom of a 12 year old. I also teach programming and artificial intelligence to kids from grades 4–12. This article contains my perspectives from my own life and from my teaching experiences. I have tried to answer questions that I have heard from parents and teachers.

Is there a difference between Programming and Coding?

No. They are the same thing.

How early should kids start programming?

As early as they like! There are simple block based programming tools like Blockly that kids can use as soon as they are comfortable using them. In my work, I see kids starting block programming as early as 4th grade and regular programming as early as 6th grade.

How can I cultivate an interest in programming?

Kids are more excited about programming when they can build something they care about and see it work. The details of programming are fascinating to some kids, but not to all kids. Find projects where they can see what they build come to life. That will motivate them to do more.

What programming languages should my kid learn?

These days, there are many languages to choose from, but three stand out. All three are very popular inside companies and so good for future internship opportunities before college.

Python: You can build so many different types of applications, including artificial intelligence.

Java: AP Computer Science uses Java.

Javascript: With this you can build great websites.

Where can they start and how can they be guided?

There are many websites that teach how to code, but the difficulty comes in the guidance. To learn not just how to code but how to code with a purpose (that is to build something and see it work), a class or a club usually helps, like that teaches students how to build python apps, AI chatbots and iPhone apps.

How can they showcase what they have learned?

A great way is through GitHub. This is the way adults showcase their code. Students over 13 can get their own account and others can work with their parents or teachers. Companies that hire for internships will also be able to see a student’s skills if they can see their code directly in GitHub.

Code is now a universal language. By learning how to program, kids can express their creativity, show off their skills, find a passion, friends, and communities that will nurture them for life.



Nisha Talagala

I am a software engineer by training and an expert in artificial intelligence. I am also a mom! I teach coding and tech to kids from grades 4-12.