I assume you don't want to use a real IDE (Eclipse, Netbeans are free) because they muddy the waters for beginners. If this is so, I agree with you, just use an editor with syntax highlighting. I use notepad++, but I have no idea if it is 'best'.
I use notepad++, but I have no idea if it is 'best'.
Same. Notepad++ also has a wicked column edit mode too - I used to use the commercial Ultraedit because it had this function, but Notepad++ just blows it away.
And of course there is no best because that is a personal opinion.