Which computer language should my 8 year old learn first?

(Rob) #1

I would like my 8 year old to get into programming is BASIC the worst thing I could ever do to him?

I need something straightforward and fun. With a quick feed back loop. Suggestions (these are all free languages by the way):

quickBasic My top choice so far
Xbasic Very powerfull, as fast as C, or better. A bit complicated.
Ybasic No colour graphics.
DEV-C++ a bit complicated, but maybe, currently 2nd choice, but I have just got it to work with Borland graphics…
python, do’nt think so.


(valarking) #2

It will be wasted time, also, when you put him in something useful like C++, he’ll have to unlearn almost every previous habit and learn twice as many. VERY BAD. Trust me, I started with QBasic, and regretted it VERY badly.
However, if you do start QBasic, give me an email at [email protected] and I’ll send you QB4.5, the QBasic that comes with a compiler, so he can share his .exes with all his little pc hooked friends.

(VelikM) #3

I’d suggest starting with C, then working into ObjectiveC or C++, since they’re both extensions of the C language. There is a good online tutorial for C and C++ at: http://cplus.about.com/library/weekly/aa010602a.htm the code is complete and will compile, not snip-its that leave you wondering what they mean.

(theeth) #4

You could even start him in Python, it will give him the good habit of code indentation. However, I would recommend C/C++ more, than go to higher level languages afterward.


(NateTG) #5

I started in QBasic, and I found it really helpful. Not only for getting my foot into programming, but it also helped me in math at school by improving my understanding of variables and functions (although any language would do that).

Contrary to what appears to be the general consensus, I would suggest QBasic so you don’t scare the kid off right away.

(overextrude) #6

I agree with NateTG. Start him off with something simple. At the ripe age of 8, all you really want to do is give him a taste of what programming is about.

Have you considered the LOGO programming language? It allows kids to learn about programming in a graphical environment (Turtle Graphics), so that they can easily see the results of what they type. There’s a brief summary of it here:
and a free version available here (PC and Linux):

If he still likes it after he gets done learning about all of this, you can move him to a more sophisticated environment. He’s eight. Let him have fun, and let his natural curiosity lead the way. JMHO : )

(S68) #7



Perl is powerful, compact, flexible. Can do watever you want, easy to begin with, can do amazing things once you mastered. It is C like so you can switch to C easily, but is BASIC like in being free from lots of formalisms.

I would not go to FORTRAN and COBOL and FORTH, if I were you…

Good luck


(Timonides) #8

I guess start him with something easy…

8 year old boys, although extremely clever, don’t have enough determination to learn difficult stuff… They prefer playing games and fooling around (which is natural ofcourse…). He would get really fast dissapointed with something difficult.

Perhaps Python would be great. You can learn it very fast…


(IMProvisar) #9

I always say, if you want to start right, start at the beginning…

Why not start with assembly language? lol, just kidding.

I’ve heard Pascal was a good learning language, but then, I’ve never used Pascal. The school I’m at switched from Pascal to C++ the year I took my first programming class. Most people thought Pascal was a better teaching language, but C++ was chosen because it’s a more marketable skill.


(Titus) #10

LOGO in its very modern versions is the best choice for now, then as a grown up he can learn to program Cray super computers at college is he want. Trying to teach C, Pascal, BASIC, etc. is the less pedagogical thing you can do, don’t destroy the child trying to create a genius.

With LOGO your son can learn the basic idea about programming, no matter what language you use later you need the base. Turtle graphics is the program recomended to teach K12 kids to program, and they have a lot of fun.

(bmax) #11

ok. it’s fine if you wnat your child to be smart and in touch with technology…but for pete’s sake, don’t you think its overkill to let your child learn a programming language when he’s 8 years old!!!
come on, you’re gonna kill that poor little fella with all that complicated crap that might not even be of interest to him - i know, cause my dad tried to do the same with me…he wanted me to be a programmer cause he was one himself…although, i have to say, that’s probably what ill end up as - [sigh] :frowning:


(Kid Tripod) #12

i’d agree with LOGO (real logo not just turtle graphics), and then maybe something like LISP/Prolog. It gets you thinking more, and then you write better procedural/OO code if you’ve had that experience. I would avoid C and derivatives as they contain too many bad practises, which should be avoided for as long as possible, and i do think C is a bit complex for an eight year old (some nice implementations of a doubly linked list please . . . . )

Another goody might be Ruby . . .

(valarking) #13

LOGO is baaad. it’s nothing like REAL languages.
besides, i was learning to program before i was 8 and it didnt scare me off.

(Kid Tripod) #14

LOGO is a real language

i think its derived from LISP

(overextrude) #15

It’s different to be sure- it’s based on a different paradigm called functional programming. Those expecting a run-of-the-mill procedural language will be disappointed.

(bmax) #16

hrmf - i still think its overkill. :o

(thatbrikwal) #17

i actually did start lerning c++ when i was 8 (which btw was not all that long ago), and got quite far before my energy was sucked into something else, namely graphics, which specialized into blender

(stukkm) #18

i think your kid is lucky to get to start programming at 8. if he wants to that is. i suggest turing. it’s what we are taught at highschool here in ontario but it’s really simple if you work at it and actually try to learn yourself instead of just learning from class. now, the program isn’t actually free, but it totally sucks ass and isn’t worth whatever the price is. search the web from google or something (try yahoo canada if it isn’t on an american engine, since it is canadian) to find a turing message board. then you can ask the people there where to download it they’ll probably have a site with it. and if you really want to buy it, the fools that make it are at http://www.holtsoft.com

(Rob) #19

Thanks for the replies.

Yes I know he is only 8, he spends most of his time playing age of Empires II. The other day he was reading a book that had a few lines of BASIC in it and he wanted to know what it did. I would like him to know how to program a bit so that he has an understanding of it as early as possible so that it will be just something he can do rather than the thing he does. My main aim is to show him that computers are more than just games It needs to be fun, so graphics and rapid turn around, so thats why I thought of QBASIC. Remember the good old days when if you wanted to play a game you had to write it yourself? No? me neither. Or if you wanted to turn on a radio you first had to grow your own christal?

Checking out LOGO for my sins.



(bmax) #20

if the kid really wants to learn it, then hey! theres no problem. if he’s interested in grafix, try to teach him opengl or directx, cause they’re the most useful ones these days