Published: 30th May 2020
Even children as young as four will fall in love with coding after reading this book by Dr Vats
Dr Swati Popat Vats is an early childhood education expert and has designed various curricula for students. This time she has come up with a book that helps children understand what coding is
Come to think of it, coding is everywhere. When you are giving a step-by-step instruction to someone, when you ready poetry which has the perfect rhyming sequence, when you identify obstacles on the ground and avoid them while walking — there is some sort of coding, looping, debugging and so on in every task we do. So basically, children are exposed to coding from a very early age without them even knowing it. Early childhood education expert Dr Swati Popat Vats' new story-cum-activity ebook Yash and Yashika Learn about Coding helps children as young as four understand coding in a simple way. For this, she joined forces with publishing company Scholastic, who will soon publish this book in print too, which is aimed at kids between four to six years of age. We have had the chance to read the book and trust us, it is a book that belongs on any child's bookshelf (even on an e-bookshelf).
Meet Yash and Yashika
Dr Vats is the Founder-Director of Podar Jumbo Kids, a preschool chain and is the President of Podar Education Network. It was when she was designing a coding curriculum for kids in their early years that she came up with the idea of this book. Currently, over 45,000 children at 500 Podar Jumbo Kids kindergartens are learning this curriculum. So she figured it will definitely work as a book too."The aim has always been to teach kids how to learn, not what to learn. Another important lesson to learn is that we don't listen to gadgets, it listens to us. It is we who have the power over them" says Dr Vats, who calls herself a born tinkerer. Think of this book that readies them for the extensive world of coding.
Book cover | (Pic: Scholastic)
In the book, Yash and Yashika are introduced to Mr Bot via their mother, who is a coder, and the siblings embark on a journey of various fun activities. The characters experience the games at the same time as the child who is reading does and hopefully, their parents too. Guess what one of the activities is about? Making a sandwich! The duo give the task of making one to Mr Bot and develop an algorithm to make one. Basically, they inform the robot about the set of steps involved in making a sandwich. Then there is another activity about debugging where children are asked to circle what sent the famous Jack and Jill (from the nursery rhyme) tumbling down in one of the illustrations of the book. This is a basic level of teaching them how to identify bugs. "For both of these tasks, it is important to follow the steps in the right order, otherwise one won't achieve the desired outcome. This teaches them sequential thinking, one of the important aspects of life," she points out. And why should children opt for this book instead of the apps and online courses which could teach them coding, we wonder out loud. "We give children screens without helping them understand what their responsibility towards it is. Children should start with computational thinking, not computer-related coding, this is what is missing today. If you start their journey with an abstract tool, the learning will not be beneficial or long-lasting. They might not be able to understand the depth and perspective of what a shape looks like," points out Dr Vats. This is the reason why this interactive book is filled with activities that are engaging and impactful.
A page from the book | (Pic: Scholastic)
Coding is for all
The President of Early Childhood Association also rubbishes the myth that coding is for those who prefer Math. "Coding can be found in everything. If you are a writer, don't you create the plotline, break down different scenes and then start writing? Coding is also breaking down tasks into smaller steps to achieve a goal," she asserts. It is also about establishing patterns because, after all, patters are the foundation to coding, she says.
The response to this book, which is currently available on Kindle, is so positive that even 10 year olds are using it to learn to code, we hear. So what message would Dr Vats like to leave us with? "I would like to address the parents actually, don't treat this book as a workbook and pressurise children to finish it. Let the world of Yash, Yashika and Mr Bot unravel slowly and steadily," she says with a smile.
Check out the book here amzn.to/2XwPtjP