We talked about how learning computer coding skills can improve kids’ executive functions, such as organization and staying on task. Decomposition is an important skill for a programmer, and it is also an important building block of executive function. We used a coding game to demonstrate how to break down tasks into smaller actionable steps. As an extension, we will showcase an example how to help kids practice decomposition using everyday life activities.
All tasks have processes. With the Hot Dog Coding Game 3, we showed how to breakdown the process of making a hot dog into smaller steps. Today we use a daily activity that every kid does as an example to teach kids they can practice the skill every day.
Many family struggles with morning routines. From getting up on time, to leaving home to school and work. How to make it easier and smooth for everyone, how to make sure kids stay on time?
Studies have shown many kids have hard time to keep the process in mind, they get distracted and forget what need be done. That is why you see kids playing water in the middle of brushing teeth, or playing with the soccer ball next to the shoes instead of putting shoes on.
Helping kids see through the whole morning routine process, being able to remember what is the next step after each action are important learning parts in improving executive functions. They are essentially the same as teaching them decompose a task, break it into steps, and execute one step after another till the end. The more kids have the opportunity to practice the skill, the better they will be at it. Luckily, there are many opportunities in our daily life for kids to practice the skill. Morning routine is just an example. There are many other activities you can try, like bed time routine, after school routine, Sunday dinner routine, or the process of washing the dog, the process of making a sandwich.
Now let’s talk about morning routine.
The routine is different for each family and for each child. We just give an example routine so kids can see what it looks like to break the process into steps.
In the example, you will see key steps of a morning routine. In each key step, there are several actions. Besides the key actions, you will see assisting actions as the by-product of the key action. For example, after using bathroom, kids have to wash hands. Washing Hand is the result of using bathroom. You will also see Transition Actions. Many kids who can’t finish tasks stuck on transition actions. An example, after kids getting dressed, they need walk to kitchen to have breakfast. This walking to kitchen is a transition action. Without it, kids won’t be able to perform the next action, eating breakfast.
Another reason we emphasize on assisting actions and transition actions is, when you talk to a computer, ie. write computer codes, you can not skip any tiny part of the process. Otherwise, the computer will stuck in the middle of the process doing nothing, because it doesn’t know anything beyond what’s been told.
In the example we provided, we color coded the 3 types actions: key actions, assisting actions, and transition actions.
You can download the example routine steps at the end of this post. Included in the download, there is a template for you and your child to put together his / her own morning routine steps.
Some important notes while practicing morning routine:
1. When talking with kids, make sure it is the child’s routine, not yours. Does he go to bath room before getting dressed or after? Does she put shoes on first or grab the school bag first?
2. Like we did with the Hot Dog Coding Game 3, make sure to list items needed for each step. For example, for Brushing Teeth, kids need toothbrush and tooth paste; for Getting Dressed, kids need shirt and pants. This helps kids to see through the process more clearly, and makes the execution a lot easier. This is even more important when writing programs for the computers.
3. Talk about the transitions between obvious steps, and list the transitions as separate steps too. Ask the child “What do you have to do after brushing teeth, so you can get dressed?” This could be “walking back to bed room, take clothes from the closet.” For some kids, you may also need be more specific that he needs to take a shirt and a pair of pants, and point out that these are two pieces of clothes. Kids need know, when you write codes, if the transition is missing, the computer or the robot will stop, not knowing what to do.
To download the example and blank template, please enter your email below.
This practice goes hand-in-hand with Hot Dog Coding Game 3 teaching decomposition skill. I highly recommend downloading that game as well.
For the whole series of Coding Games, please visit DIY Coding Camp at Home. You will find all the coding games there.
For more computer programming for kids ideas, visit Best Coding Learning Resources for Kids.
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For young children, try Color Mixing with Computer Coding for Preschoolers