Tips for Teaching STEM Education & Why It’s So Important for Child Development
What is STEM learning and education? And what are STEM skills?
STEM learning is all about empowering your children with the essential skills they need for a successful future. STEM refers to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM is about problem-solving, creativity, innovation, logical thinking, and having a better understanding of the world.
STEM skills are valuable for every child, no matter what career they end up in. And promoting STEM skills is just as important as promoting literacy skills at an early age.
Since young children are naturally curious, wanting to explore their environments, they are capable STEM learners. And early childhood is the perfect time to start learning STEM skills. With these skills, they can develop a complex understanding of the world around them.
Here’s how you can encourage your child’s STEM development in the comfort of your own home to prepare them for the road ahead.
The Most Important Stem Skills That Should Be Taught at Home
Problem-solving skills are probably the most important skills to have. Not only are these skills important in STEM, but they are necessary for succeeding in life.
Problem-solving skills are required for success in both the workplace and personal lives.
Creativity allows children to look at problems from different perspectives, reflect, explain, and think critically and outside the box.
3. Intellectual Curiosity
Lifelong learning is essential for both personal and career growth. And lifelong learners are driven by intellectual curiosity. This curiosity allows them to master skills, become innovators, learn from failures, and move forward.
Argumentation requires using evidence to back up a claim. And in the STEM field, argumentation requires analytical and critical thinking skills to:
- Look for patterns in data;
- Try to determine what the patterns mean; and then,
- Use that data to support a claim.
The ability to adapt to new situations and demands is an important skill to have in the workplace. And it means acquiring a broad skill set to meet demands, such as communication and quantitative skills.
6. Data-Driven Decision-Making
To succeed in life and in any field, kids need to learn to make informed decisions based on evidence and not just their thoughts or emotions. They need to learn to use scientific data that supports the best decision when making important decisions in life.
Statistics can be applied across all STEM fields. Understanding statistics allows for an understanding of probability and error rates. And these concepts can be used in almost any problem you want to solve in STEM.
How To Encourage Stem Skills At A Young Age
1. Encourage Your Child to Notice Things
Since observation is the most essential scientific process, teach your child to make observations in their surroundings.
Point out and describe your observations of the environment so your child will start noticing and making observations of these things too.
Observations can include the effects of wind and weather (e.g., how wind moves leaves on a tree), the changes of the seasons (visible, temperature, etc.), and new buds growing on plants in the garden.
Your child will start making general observations and then eventually learn to notice more details and scientific features with practice.
2. Ask ‘What’ Rather Than ‘Why’ Questions
To help encourage conversations and learning, ask your child questions they can actually answer so they will feel more confident in answering questions.
A young child may not be able to answer why something is happening as easily as what is happening. So ask ‘what’ questions instead of ‘why’ questions.
3. Encourage Your Child to Count Using One-To-One Correspondence
While learning to count is one thing, children also need to understand one-to-one correspondence. In other words, “one” equals one object, “two” equals two objects, “three” equals three objects, and so on.
You can teach one-to-one correspondence by asking your child to hand you two eggs for the cake mixture, or by asking how many envelopes are in the mailbox.
4. Encourage Your Child to Describe Things They See and Do
When your child sees or does something, ask them to describe it. For example, if your child is building something, ask them what they are doing. And if they see a bird, ask them what colour and size is it.
You can help your child develop the STEM language by rephrasing and extending their descriptions and using words like predict, measure, and experiment.
5. Encourage Your Child to Think About Space Around Them
Ask your child to think about where they are in space to help develop spatial skills and awareness. For example, if you are at a mall or a zoo, look at a map of the area and ask your child where they are in relation to the food court or the lions. And if you drive a familiar route, ask your child to remember landmarks along the way.
6. Let Them Be Your Assistant
Your child can be your handy assistant when it comes to chores, and they’ll learn some STEM skills too. Bring your child grocery shopping so they can start learning about money. Ask them for help setting up a new phone or assembling furniture. And have them help you in the kitchen, following recipes, and counting and measuring out ingredients.
Cooking also teaches kids about science and numbers, such as temperatures, baking, boiling water, toasting, and how ice forms.
7. Expose Them To New Surroundings
To make STEM learning enjoyable outside of the home, bring your child places that promote STEM, such as museums, zoos, planetariums, and factories.
Exposing them to these fun, new surroundings that promote STEM learning will help them want to learn more and continue visiting these places as they get older.
8. Make It Fun – Play Educational Games
Play is an important part of learning in early childhood. And thankfully, there are many educational games and toys available that encourage STEM development, from simple building blocks for young children to coding games for older kids.
You can also set up your own STEM activities with household items, such as building bridges with toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, and candy. And while you’re playing, be sure to use language that promotes STEM concepts, such as spatial concepts—size, quantity, shapes, and the location of objects in relation to each other.
Even if your child doesn’t grow up to be a doctor, an accountant, or an astronaut, they will still benefit significantly from learning STEM skills early on.
STEM skills can be used across various fields and can help your child succeed in both their work and personal lives.
From problem-solving and creative thinking to making informed decisions and thinking logically, your child will have a better understanding of life and the world around them with the help of STEM learning at a young age and at home.