An independent Queensland school has introduced a program to teach computer coding to children as young as four years old without increasing screen time.
It comes amid concerns from parents at the school that children were spending too much time on iPads and other digital devices.
Hills International College in Jimboomba has adopted a screenless approach to coding information to equip its students from kindergarten through Grade 12 with key skills to prosper in the digital economy, without compromising a healthy lifestyle.
Principal Kevin Lynch said there was an observable link between two childhood statistics that had both increased exponentially: technology use and rates of obesity.
“Many parents are very concerned about the amount of screen time their children have access to, whether at home for recreational use, or at school as part of the learning environment,” Mr Lynch said.
“Conversely, as parents and educators, we know digital proficiency underpins many aspects of life and work in our online world, and learning the language of coding as early as possible develops understanding of how we are connected to this environment, and ultimately, to each other.”
The Hills program balances both screen and screenless experiences to teach the language of coding, he said.
From the early years, teachers introduce children to the process of technological design through guided discussion and brainstorming, planning, creation and adjustments.
This knowledge is then transferred to devices, with robotics, including BeeBot and Sphero, used to provide immediate feedback to children on the efficiency of their coding.
The school is urging other educators to adopt a similar approach.
“Our children are developing this style of computational thinking by first solving problems away from the screen, along the way building diverse skills including logical and abstract reasoning, pattern recognition, and creating algorithms,” Mr Lynch said.
“We want our young ones to be creative problem-solvers, not only to secure the jobs of the future, but to become knowledgeable and competitive in an ever-changing world.”