Are you one of those parents who are worried about how your child will be ready to tackle challenges of the future? Are you also worried about how will your child get a job when technology will take over everything?
I wouldn’t say your fears are unwarranted but trust me teaching them coding at the age of 6, including Data Models, Artificial Intelligence, Space Tech is not going to help them. In fact, it’s cruelty! If you are surprised by this statement and are wondering who teaches kids about Data Models at the age of six, you are few of the lucky parents who have not seen those ads and are not puzzled what is correct to do. There are a lot of companies who can turn your small innocent child into an AI developer in a few classes, the cost is just around a few lakh rupees and a lost childhood. Do you want to take the deal?
Even if you have excess money and think this is good way to get rid of the guilt of not giving enough time to your child, the second cost, the precious childhood is priceless.
The formative years of a child are essential to build her curiosity and creativity. As a parent, you can help in that, first and most importantly by providing them enough free time. Children learn most by way of exploration. If we allow them to do that, give them enough time and freedom, they will learn much more than any class or teacher can teach them.
In any case, once they get into the trap of formal education system (and they will because as a parent, we don’t dare to take a different route), they will hardly get any opportunity for self-exploration. First few years are golden years from that perspective, don’t fill those with extra curriculum, forced hobby or coding classes.
Katie Davis, a Manhattan-based clinical psychologist and neuroscience researcher at Johns Hopkins said in an interview with Rompers  “Free time allows children to participate in activities that have no clear structure or rules, and so it is crucial for social, emotional, and cognitive development. During free time, children use parts of the brain that are required for imagination, introspection, and daydreaming. They develop important social skills, like communication, flexibility, cooperation, negotiation, and taking turns. They try out new activities and roles, which fosters creativity. They also learn to manage conflict, which helps to reduce anxiety and stress.”
There are several other pieces of research  that prove children who had free time and engaged in unstructured play, became more self-directed because they had the chance to do that.
Another way you can help your child’s development in the early years is by providing them right tools. Provide them with an environment that generates their curiosity and encourages them to think logically.
There is no doubt that with changing world, they will need to interact with computers at much younger age compared to any previous generation and they should know how these work. There are various ways to introduce them to computers. The best way to do that is to talk to them about computers and systems and let them ask questions. You can show them the computers and explain working but that’s lot different from proper coding classes (irrespective of how much fun they claim these are).
Like any other topic, don’t try to fill them up with information. Let them ask their own question. Of course, help them generate new question but let it be their exploratory journey. There is the time of every curiosity and they will ask when they feel like.
Learning how systems work and how are these programmed, can help in thinking logically. If you want to show them how coding works (purely optional and on interest in initial years), use one of the free tools. Code.org is best, its completely free and has a fun way to introduce them to computers. That’s the most your child wants at that age, but remember here also let them explore.
Coding/computer science is not the only way to develop logical thinking, but games like chess, board games and card games are also equally important. Also, your child needs to learn beyond just STEM, arts have an equal (or even greater) role in developing your child as an independent and creative individual. You can do that easily at home.
Education is a business and worried parent are an easy target. Don’t let these businesses take advantage of your fear and guilt, to rob your money and your child’s childhood. The best gift for a young child is the freedom to use her/his time. Top it up with parents who encourage, understand and nurture curiosity, your child can beat any programmer in the world or may even hire them in future, when right time comes. Today is time to enjoy childhood and develop, it will not come back. Let your child be child.