Learning to tie your shoes sucks. It’s difficult - the laces get all mixed up and nothing comes together, everyone gives you different advice and you're left with 2 bunny ears wrapped around your fingers and something about a train and a tunnel. And while you’re still wondering what on Earth a crisscross is, everything has somehow come loose and you need to start over again. Forget it, I’ll stick to velcro…
It takes time to learn to tie your shoes. It doesn’t happen all at once, and even when it starts to click it still takes practice.
The word “struggle” sounds so negative. It brings to mind frustration, upset and general unhappiness. No one wants unhappy kids, and to avoid the dreaded struggle we as adults tend to take over. But are we really helping? Of course there are times when a child needs help and an adult should be there to support them. However, are there times when a little struggling is not so bad?
When an adult steps in, what message are they sending to a child? This is too difficult for you or worse, I don’t think you can do this. Over time this becomes the narrative that a child will believe, and they will always look for someone to do things for them.
Struggling can be a valuable learning experience. Giving a child the chance to struggle lets them practice their critical thinking and problem solving skills, key tools in future success. The process of trial and error that comes with problem solving is so important for a child’s development. It shows them that things don’t always work the first time, and that’s okay. We can pick ourselves up and have another go. This in turn develops resilience and perseverance. Trial and error also allows children to explore their abilities and test their limits. There is then a real sense of achievement and satisfaction when the struggle is overcome, building confidence to take on bigger and more difficult tasks.
At The Code Zone the mentors are there to support children through their coding journey. Some children arrive already equipped with previous coding experiences and others are trying it for the first time but everyone no matter their experience struggles with their code at some point or another. The mentors work hard to create a comfortable environment where experimentation is encouraged and from that the children get to grow at their own rate. They have the chance to try out code they’ve built that may or may not work and are then supported in making tweaks and adjustments to get things running smoothly. The mentors create a balance between struggle and support. If they swoop in immediately children don’t get to test their own understanding and could miss out on seeing how different pieces of code work together, by putting in the wrong piece first. The mentors support by asking thought provoking questions and pointing children in the right direction, but the child still has the autonomy of building the code themselves.
It feels good when you tie your shoes by yourself for the first time and it opens up a whole world of new shoe choices to you. The same goes for coding, it feels great to build your first piece of code but it feels amazing to create your own game.