Toys that teach kids how to code can be found just about everywhere these days!
Some would even say they are necessary in our technology driven world.
But do children really need these types of toys for general learning and development?
My answer to this question is no they do not!
Especially young children.
So don’t feel bad if you aren’t getting the latest and greatest coding toy for your 3 year old.
However, I do believe from a “learning toy” perspective these types of toys are better than some of the other toys on the market.
I am not a fan of toys for babies, toddlers and children under the age of 5 that claim they will teach your child the alphabet, numbers, counting, shapes, colors and who knows what else by pushing buttons as the only form of interaction with the toy.
Young children learn best by playing, exploring and interacting with others.
That being said, there are benefits that come with coding toys which I will discuss next.
Benefits of Learning To Code Toys
- teach problem solving
- develop and fine tune sequencing skills
- great for working on perseverance
- can promote teamwork when children are using the toy with peers
- develop critical thinking skills and higher level reasoning
- perfect for promoting STEM concepts
Are Learn To Code Toys Necessary For Children Growing Up Today?
Above I mentioned 6 amazing benefits of these toys, however, they are still not necessary in order for your child to develop and become successful.
I’m sure you are probably wondering how I can list all of these wonderful benefits but then say your child doesn’t need these kids of toys. Let me explain why this is the case.
First of all there is no research showing that children who have access to these types of toys are smarter or any better than children who don’t.
What these toys may help with are to motivate a child to develop a “coding” mindset.
A child may really enjoy being able to make a robot animal reach an end goal. It can be a lot of fun for some children.
I didn’t mention any drawbacks to these toys because honestly there really aren’t any, other than maybe technical or quality issues with a specific toy.
These toys are typically marketed to children ages 3 and up, but most are meant for children over the age of 5.
By the age of 5 children should have a solid foundation of speech and language skills that have been acquired through play and interacting with others.
Therefore they may be ready for learn to code toys.
But for children under the age of five I wouldn’t bother with this kind of toy.
Even if your child is over the age of five, don’t worry about them possibly missing out on certain skill developments because they don’t have any coding toys.
This does not mean they will never become a software developer or work with computers.
There are many skills that are required of a software developer but these can be learned in a variety of different ways, not simply through learn to code toys.
And the opposite may also be true. You can expose your child to all sorts of coding toys yet they may end up being an artist.
My husband is a software developer and when he was growing up, toys that teach kids to code did not exist.
Yet he managed to learn this skill as a young adult and has been working in the industry for over 20 years!
I really doubt he would be a better programmer if only he would have had access to toys that teach coding to young kids.
He has told me that the skill set a software developer needs is being able to think logically, sequence events, solve problems, analyze, etc.
That is what these toys are teaching, but these skills can be learned in many different ways.
In fact, children can develop all of these skills through play, both adult guided and unstructured and child led!
Bottom Line: As long as your child is given plenty of opportunity to play and interact with others, she can develop the same skills that these toys claim to teach.
Don’t feel bad if you want to get these toys for your child, but know that they will not turn him into a genius computer coder.
And, if you are really set on teaching your kids a “coding mindset” there are plenty of tech free ways to teach these kinds of skills.
Take a look at some of the ideas from Teach Your Kids Code!
I recently wrote an article about the Fisher-Price Code-A-Pillar.
This toy would be considered an entry level learn to code toy. You can read my article about it here.
Another coding toy that I have heard quite a bit about (and the reviews are all great) is the Code and Go Robot Mouse Activity Set by Learning Resources.
This toy is recommended for children between the ages of 5 and 15 whereas the Code-A-Pillar is for children ages 3 to 8.
Another toy which I could possibly get behind recommending is Cubetto.
This is a screen/tech free coding toy for children ages 3+ (again, I would wait until a child is 5 or older before introducing this).
It is made up of wooden blocks that represent coding actions (move left, right, backward, stop, etc.)
What Are Your Thoughts On Coding Toys For Kids?
I wouldn’t worry too much about having coding toys in the house.
Speech and language development and general learning in a child’s early years occurs best through play, joint reading and listening to and having conversations with adults and peers.
However, if you are looking for a gift for your child or another child and are having a hard time coming up with something that the they don’t already have, then toys that teach kids how to code are a good backup.
These types of toys can be quite costly. Not everyone can afford them.
But there are so many other ways your child can develop these types of skills through play without these high tech “learning” toys.
I have only mentioned 3 specific toys here, but there are many others available for varying age groups.
Do you feel children are at an advantage with these toys, or do you believe that these types of skills can be learned in other, more traditional ways?