I found myself saying this to a Head Teacher recently, and it made me stop to think.  It followed a discussion about a student teacher who had prepared a Flowol lesson for Year 4, and was surprised when the children blasted out of the end of the prepared lesson and through his extension activities.  He was surprised how quickly they ‘got it’.

“If they can read, they can program”, I said to the Head, discussing the situaton afterwards: it was an off-the-cuff remark, but it does make me reflect on the appropriate age to start introducing programming languages into the curriculum, to build on, say, instruction sequencing with bee-bots.

Having used Scratch with Year 6, it is clear to me that children should be learning the fundamentals of a chosen platform much earlier in their school careers, and I have been considering the age at which Scratch could be used in the classroom.  Actually, when you think about it, children could start as soon as they can read.  There’s not a great conceptual leap from reading a ‘Move 10 steps’ block to attaching it to a ‘When green flag clicked’ block.  Developing thinking skills and computing concepts is a different matter, but if the children can use the environment early in their school career, then you can concentrate on these things later on, without them having to learn syntax.

I shall be discussing the use of Scratch with Key Stage 1 teachers, and will report back.

(Image courtesy of Mark Evans, under creative commons licence)