Believe what futurologists tell you (and we mostly do) and one day soon coding skills could be as much of a requirement in the job market as being able to read or write, or perform basic arithmetic.
Proof that the tech seers are on the money this time? For one thing, coding is now part of the national curriculum.
Starting at five years young, schoolies will be taught how to create and debug simple programs. Once they’re on the cusp of their troublesome teens, they’ll be knocking up programs in a range of languages.
So how you can make sure your kids have got the tools they need to really push on and put their primer in coding to good use? And give them a head start when it comes to securing employment?
Well, you could do a lot worse than invest in the range of coding-focussed gifts we’ve rounded up here. From the top, then…
1 Kano Computer Kit - £139.99
Neatly packaged and very appealing, Kano is essentially a do-it-yourself computer, powered by a simplified, customised version of the Raspberry Pi operating system.
Out of the box, kids are taught how the core components of a computer work and are tasked with putting the parts together themselves.
But the meat and drink of it starts when they’ve assembled it. Once they’re up and running, kids are presented with a series of graded challenges, wherein they’ll drag blocks around and tap out code.
In the process they’ll be building apps and animations and hacking games to get extra lives. They can also get stuck in to the 21st century Lego game Minecraft and collaborate with other children all over the world.
Get the Kano Computer Kit.
2 Raspberry Pi 3 - £32.50
At a shade over £30, child-friendly pocket PCs don’t come much more pocket-friendly than the Raspberry Pi.
As with Kano, it features a visual programming tool dubbed Scratch that lets whippersnappers knock up games, interactive stories and animations without getting bogged down in zeroes and ones.
Unlike Kano, it doesn’t come with a case. But as you can probably guess, making one is among the tasks kids can complete as part of their Jedi training.
Get Raspberry Pi 3.
3 Raspberry Pi for Kids - £12.75
Aimed at 8-18 year-olds, this accessible, clearly written tome is packed with humour and illustrations.
More importantly, it introduces kids to popular programming languages, such as Scratch, Python, and Linux, to give them the aptitude to create websites, games and express their creative side with some computer art.
Get Raspberry Pi for Kids.
4 Osmo Coding Set - £49 + starter kit at £75 (required)
As all wholesome, flying nannies know, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. And that’s Osmo’s approach to coding in a nutshell.
Framed as a puzzle game for the iPad, it asks kids to assemble physical game pieces that combine to form instructions for the game’s lead character, Awbie.
In so doing, they’re learning the fundamentals of move sequences, which are at the heart of coding.
Get Osmo Coding Set.
5 Kano Pixel Kit
Sold separately from the Kano Computer Kit, the Pixel Kit is a programmable, build-it-yourself light board that lets kids create animations and pixel art, play simple games, display text and turn data into something eye-poppingly visual.
As with the Computer Kit, they’re schooled in the art of coding through a simple, block-based system. So kids don’t feel bogged down and dissuaded by dry data.
6 Robot Turtles - £45.90
Taking a very traditional approach to a very modern challenge, Robot Turtles is a board game that educates kids about computer science logic by allowing them to write programs with playing cards.
Suitable for bairns aged four and up.
Get Robot Turtles.
7 Meccano Meccanoid G15 - £149.99
As you’d expect from a toy by bolts and rivets specialist, the Meccanoid G15 is a self-assembly robot. Albeit one that ditches the original ‘50s favourite’s metal pieces for lighter plastic parts.
Its credentials as a programming aid are down to the option to control Meccanoid’s movements with drag and drop coding. With which you can pose the robot however you like, put together sequences of movements and store sounds.
Get Meccano Meccanoid.