Should Coding Be Included in Elementary School Curriculum?

Are ones and zeros as important as ABCs? Many educators are beginning to think so.

John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author

April 10, 2024

5 Min Read
Diverse school children students build robotic cars using computers and coding.
insta_photos via Alamy Stock Photo

Not so long ago, elementary school teachers helped students sharpen their penmanship and spelling skills. Today, in a world of texting and spell-checkers, such instruction seems almost quaint. 

Like a growing number of IT and education professionals, Matthew Schwartz, a teacher on special assignment in technology services for the Fresno Unified School District -- the third-largest district in California -- believes that it's time to help youngsters prepare for life in an increasingly digital world. Part of that instruction should be learning how to code. "It's a good idea because it teaches logical thinking, problem solving, and creativity -- skills that are valuable beyond computer science," he says. Schwartz believes that instruction could begin as early as kindergarten, using age-appropriate activities and support. 

Multiple Benefits 

Benefits related to learning coding at an early age include enhanced critical thinking, collaboration, and digital literacy skills, Schwartz says. "Schools can develop competent instructors through professional development programs such as, partnerships with technology companies, and by incorporating computer science into teacher education programs," he explains. "Emphasizing the importance of making computer science inclusive and accessible to all students, regardless of background, is crucial to ensure broad participation and interest in STEM fields." 

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Teaching coding in schools offers benefits that continue well into adulthood. "It equips students with essential skills for the future job market, encourages creativity, and promotes diversity in STEM fields," says Justice Erolin, CTO at software development company BairesDev, in an email interview. "Sure, there are challenges, like needing enough resources and ensuring access for all students, but the rewards are worth it," he adds. 

Erolin says he strongly supports integrating coding into the elementary school curriculum. "It fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity-essential skills for navigating an increasingly digital world," he explains. By introducing coding at a young age, students are empowered to explore new avenues of learning and potential career paths. "Integrating coding into elementary education is about equipping students with the tools they'll need to thrive in an ever-evolving technological landscape." 

Victor Reinoso, global director of education philanthropy at Amazon, agrees that it’s never too early to start acquiring IT skills. He notes, in an email interview, that the Amazon Future Engineer program offers a range of fun and easy-to-teach opportunities for K-12 students. 

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In elementary schools, the program aims to help young coders combine coding basics with design, music, art, or games to create a fun, personal project. "We also work with industry partners to co-develop materials like the 'Hour of Code Dance Party: AI Edition,' which we developed with," adds Reinoso, a former deputy mayor of education in the District of Columbia. He notes that it's a fun, hour-long introduction to coding and generative AI. "Students create their own virtual music video using emojis instead of blocks of text, and the music and visuals make the learning experience fun." The program can be accessed by anyone at no cost at 

A Wider View 

Michael Gretczko, a Deloitte Consulting principal, believes that the focus should be on all types of STEM learning, not just coding. STEM education should span from K to 12, he notes via email. "Efforts to foster interest in compelling lessons at every age are key, and AI, analytics, and robotics can be subjects that provide a gateway to student interest from a young age." 

While Gretczko feels strongly that STEM education should continue throughout the entire learning journey, he says the firm also sponsors several programs targeted at specific age groups. "For instance, our Smart Factory Believers program focuses specifically on middle school students, since research shows that middle school is the most formative period of career development for young learners." 

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Looking Forward 

Teaching kids how to code is a "fantastic" idea, Erolin says. "It's like giving students a superpower for the future," he observes. "Not only does it equip them with the skills they'll need in tomorrow's job market, it also sparks their creativity and problem-solving abilities." 

Coding can also be a lot of fun for students, parents, and educators. "Watching kids light up as they bring their ideas to life through code is incredibly rewarding," Erolin says. He believes that making coding accessible to kids paves the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech future. "Overall, teaching coding to kids isn't just about preparing them for the future; it's about empowering them to shape it." 

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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