×

Thought coding was just for geeks? Even five-year olds are at it

If you thought computer programming was just for software engineers or wonks, think again.

Popularity is growing globally among young students who are learning computer languages to perform tasks from making video games to building data visualizations. Some students as young as five are enrolling in classes.

In China, the number of kids enrolling in coding classes is surging as more parents believe programming languages are the future.

Even Apple recently launched its first coding class, aimed at children ages eight through twelve, as part of its Apple Camp for kids.

Saturday Kids, a coding school for kids in Singapore offers classes starting at $100 per month, hoping to offer an extension of the traditional classroom experience.

The academy, which started in 2012, was an idea of serial entrepreneur John Tan, who admitted that at the time, there was very little demand.

But things have certainly changed. "There's no reason why you should have to wait until you're in college to use it," Tan told CNBC.

Tan started the company when his own son was just one year old, hoping that by the time he turned four or five, he'd be able to attend coding classes.

Saturday Kids, a coding academy for children, in Singapore.
Saturday Kids
Saturday Kids, a coding academy for children, in Singapore.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a splash last year when he posted a computer code he created to solve a sudoku puzzle. Meanwhile more education departments are finding the importance in coding. Python, the computer-programming language, will be introduced in a batch of schools next year throughout Singapore, replacing traditional computer studies.

"We're getting these kids to look at a problem in a different way," Tan said, emphasizing that Saturday Kids doesn't necessarily intend to only put students on track for a career in coding.

"By learning coding, they'll learn the concepts of computational thinking, so stuff like abstraction, automation, and data visualization," he said. "No matter what they end up doing, these are useful skills to have because these are subsets of problem-solving skills."

Sarah and Keith Lye traded a football for laptops over the past few months. The teenagers from Beijing, lived in Singapore as they learned the fundamentals of coding at Saturday Kids.

Sarah is planning to make an animated short film, while Keith is designing his own video game.

Even though the Lye siblings were eager to learn coding, the studying came with its share of difficulties, too. "You have to learn a lot of codes because each code is a different command and if you put it all together it works in a certain way," Keith said.

"It's fun in a sense," Sarah said. "But it's also tiring, sometimes."