JavaScript is a coding language used for building dynamic websites and applications. The first version was created by Brendan Eich, an American computer programmer and technology executive, when he worked at Netscape in 1995. Many interactive websites and games use this popular script programming language. However, is JavaScript right for kids, and should your child start with JavaScript when learning to code? 

The good news is that JavaScript is not only a programming language that’s in high demand, it’s also easy for kids to learn.

While JavaScript is used a lot in web development, its applications are not limited to this. Programmers use JavaScript to control advanced devices and robots as well. Kids who learn JavaScript have a head start on careers with future technologies in addition to building websites.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a programming language that conforms to the ECMAScript specification and enables developers to create and construct complicated, dynamic web page features. It’s a scripting language, meaning that it’s interpreted at runtime by a browser or other software. 

Whenever a webpage updates content, displays animated graphics, shows interactive maps, and performs other similar tasks, JavaScript is often at the center of it. Put simply, JavaScript is most commonly used to add interactivity to webpages. Anytime you visit a webpage that requires user input, has embedded video clips, or displays animation, JavaScript was likely involved.

Consider JavaScript the main layer of a standard web technology cake. The other two layers are CSS and HTML. Because JavaScript is such a huge part of web development, it’s one of the most commonly used languages by professional developers. According to a survey conducted by the State of JS, 97% out of 23,000 developers have a working knowledge of JavaScript.

How Proficient are you at JavaScript

Why Kids Should Learn JavaScript

There are lots of reasons why kids should learn to code in JavaScript and most of them don’t have anything to do with your child’s ultimate choice of career. While learning JavaScript can certainly unlock a passion that could turn into a career, there are many skills that benefit your child right now.

Every coding program starts by solving a problem. When your child learns JavaScript, they will find new ways to tackle those challenges. Learning to program, in general, will help your child identify new ways to solve complicated problems even outside of coding. In addition, learning JavaScript encourages perseverance, as there is a lot of trial and error involved with programming. Initially, JavaScript programming for kids involves simple problems and their fixes. When your child understands the problem-solving framework, they’ll implement the right fixes in real life as well. 

When your child learns a problem-solving framework, they will develop logical reasoning capabilities. Logical reasoning helps kids think for themselves so they can differentiate between right and wrong actions. Through logical reasoning, your child will learn self-accountability and come up with more effective solutions. If your child already has some coding experience, JavaScript gives them a powerful tool, especially when it comes to web development. A static website is not only boring, it isn’t very functional. JavaScript allows kids to create interactive websites that are both more interesting to visitors and more fun to create.

Web Development with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

Initially, JavaScript was a scripting language designed to help validate information that users input into forms without slowing down loading times (this was back in the 1990’s when Internet speeds were already slow enough). With time, JavaScript evolved to become a full-blown programming language. Today, developers use JavaScript to create web and mobile applications that can process user actions without needing to load a new page. JavaScript can also be used to build Artificial Intelligence tools.

While JavaScript does have uses outside of web development, its functions for websites are still the most common use for this language. For web development, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS interact with each other to create a website’s front-end design (how the website looks to visitors). They work together by sharing information to create style, content, and interactivity for projects.

Common JavaScript Terms

JavaScript includes numerous terms and special words. Learning these terminologies will help your child increase their computing vocabulary and understand the JavaScript framework. These are some of the most basic terms that kids should learn first when being introduced to JavaScript:

Script

A script is a sequence or program of instructions that other programs interpret and process rather than a computer processor.

js_script

<script>
document.getElementById(“demo”).innerHTML = “Hello JavaScript!”;
</script>

Functions

A function is a series of instructions that help computers perform a task. Example:

js_function

function myFunction(p1, p2) {
  return p1 * p2;   // The function returns the product of p1 and p2
}

Class

A class in JavaScript creates objects by organizing data. Example:

js_class

class Car {
  constructor(name, year) {
    this.name = name;
    this. year = year;
  }
}

Conditionals

Conditionals are statements that control behavior in JavaScript. These statements determine the validity of the code to run. Example:

js_conditional

if (hour < 18) {
  greeting = “Good day”;
}

Scope

Scope determines and manages the availability of the variables. Example:

js_scope

{
  let x = 2;
}
// x can NOT be used here outside of the {}

Array

An array is a single variable that helps accumulate multiple elements. Example:

js_array

const cars = [“Saab”, “Volvo”, “BMW”];

Console

The console is a function that helps display variables to the users: Example:

js_console

console.log(“Hello world!”);

JavaScript Libraries

JavaScript libraries are code snippets prewritten for multiple usages. These libraries help perform the function for faster development. Furthermore, it reduces vulnerabilities to human error. Popular JavaScript libraries are:

Official JavaScript Resources

Here are some official JavaScript resources you can use to teach your kids:

JavaScript Concepts for Kids and Beginners

JavaScript is comparatively easier than mastering other languages and is a great choice for beginning coders. Even kids with no coding experience can learn the basics in a relatively short amount of time. The interactive functions of JavaScript are especially appealing to kids, giving them concrete and fun results of their work.

Using JavaScript, kids can create a simple random number generator or create their own pop up alert on a website. They can also add user interaction to a website, like a clickable button or a simple form that users fill out and submit. JavaScript is also used in game development, so kids can learn to build their own 3D games or even develop a VR experience.

What Age Can Kids Learn JavaScript?

Kids can start learning JavaScript as young as 8-10 years old. Coding truly is like learning a foreign language, and research has shown that younger kids are especially adept at learning new languages. 

Since JavaScript is a text-based language, typing skills are important to consider. If your child has good typing skills, JavaScript is a great language to learn. If they struggle with typing, a block-based language like Scratch might be a better place to start their coding journey.  

Elementary School Students

For elementary students, it’s important to focus on the key basics of JavaScript, including variables, functions, and loops. Syntax is also important for this age group, as they need to learn the rules for typing JavaScript correctly. Even kids as young as 8-10 can use the fundamentals of JavaScript to create simple animated games or websites with interactive features.

Middle School Students

Middle schoolers can dive further into how JavaScript works with HTML and CSS to create more complex and interactive websites. Advanced functions, intervals, and event handlers allow kids to create interactive games and to control animations within websites and games.

High School Students

In addition to all of the fundamentals that every student needs to learn about JavaScript, high school students can start to utilize libraries like jQuery to make their games and websites even more interactive without needing to code everything individually. This age group can also learn about APIs, which allow two applications to talk to each other seamlessly.

Easy Ways to Learn JavaScript

The internet is full of ideas and resources that help young developers master JavaScript. Make sure to consider how your child learns best to determine which resources to use. Easy ways to learn JavaScript for kids include:

Games

So many kids get interested in coding because they love to play online games, and JavaScript is used in game development. So learning JavaScript through games is a perfect fit! Both CodeCombat and JSRobot use games to teach fundamentals of JavaScript. Check out some additional coding games to learn JavaScript for kids.

Classes

If your child learns best with direct instruction, signing them up for a JavaScript class is a great way to ensure they master the fundamentals. All of our programs include classes about JavaScript and give students the tools they need to create fun games and interactive websites.

Projects

Many kids learn best by doing, so finding a simple JavaScript project they can tackle and master can be a great option. Make sure to take your child’s previous coding experience into consideration when choosing a project. Beginners should start with a tutorial that walks kids through every step. Kids who have coded before can try a project that gives more general directions.

Books

There are many options available when it comes to books that teach JavaScript. Books not only teach coding concepts without additional screen time, but they’re easy to reference over and over again. This can also be a great option for kids who have an easier time comprehending material when it’s presented on a printed page versus a screen.

Free JavaScript Projects & Tutorials

If you’re ready to start writing JavaScript code, try one of these free projects and tutorials.