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Are YouTube tutorials effective for coding kids?

Updated: 5 days ago

YouTube tutorials are a much more interesting way to learn coding than the boring programming books that I tried to consume as a child. However, they are not as effective as you may think at first glance.

A lot of students who learn using YouTube tutorials (including myself) report a phenomenon called Tutorial Hell. This is where the students do tutorials that have been prepared by a YouTuber (not a trained teacher) which take the student through a series of steps which have been designed to create the flashiest result but not help the student to understand the core concepts. YouTube tutorials are usually stand-alone tasks rather than a building of necessary skills over a period of time. As much as I would love those “learn Python in 30 minutes” videos to be effective, you simply cannot learn a language in that amount of time especially if it is your first computer language.

The result is usually that the kids successfully complete the task by following along the steps that they are shown but they do not gain the skills to think through the problems for themselves. Don't underestimate how much of coding is problem-solving. And that means analysing the problem, brainstorming ways to solve the problem, analysing those methods and deciding which one to implement.

Having said that, YouTube tutorials do give the kids exposure to computer language and although they don’t get a linear progressive path of learning, there is a lot of evidence that implies that languages (both natural and computer languages) are usually not learnt in a linear fashion anyway. And since these videos are very attractive for the kids, I would not discourage these videos, just don’t rely on them as the sole form of education for your kids. Invest in a coding school if your kid shows interest in these and together the formal learning in the coding class and the informal learning in the tutorials will complement each other and help your child to learn well.

Bring your child in for a free trial class this Saturday and see if they love it.

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