I know parenting is a 24/7 job, especially during the formative years of your child. Ensure that your child has access to everything – from going to a top-notch school to having a laptop or iPad at home. This can be overwhelming, but the struggle doesn’t end here.
The early years of every child in the 21st century have become competitive, and their future has become even more so. One of the most effective ways to help kids stand out from the crowd is to nurture a knack for innovation and learn from the beginning. And no, just sending them to a great school isn’t going to cut it.
“I don’t like mathematics.”
“The science class is boring.”
How many times have you heard your child say something like this?
Unfortunately, the conventional educational pattern that is followed in most schools hasn’t been able to keep up with the momentum of innovation for more than a decade or so. This is where introducing your kids to STEM education comes into the picture.
STEM Education stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. If you think that these verticals are more appropriate for older students, you’d be amazed to know the impact STEM learning has on kids as young as five.
- A paper published by Carnegie Corporation of New York, back in 2007, says - “The nation’s capacity to innovate for economic growth and the ability of American workers to thrive in the global economy depends on a broad foundation of math and science learning, as do our hopes for preserving a vibrant democracy and the social contract with young people that lies at the heart of the American dream.”
- A brief by Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education also identify STEM Education as a powerful means of brain development and kids' overall growth.
- A survey by the PEW Research Center found out that STEM workers enjoy a pay advantage against non-STEM workers.
We are living in a digital age where the applications of STEM are innumerable. And if that’s not enough incentive, STEM education contributes to your child's overall brain development and analytical thinking.
Here are a few benefits of STEM education that make it critical for your child.
- STEM education induces problem-based learning among kids. Children don the role of engineers and scientists during STEM learning to investigate problems and construct solutions using technology and applying mathematics to real-world scenarios.
- STEM education builds resilience in young students. Through STEM education, kids get an environment that encourages them to try scores of things without the pressure of getting it right the first time. They recognize early on that repeated attempts and failure are integral parts of learning and success.
- STEM learning encourages teamwork. A significant part of STEM education revolves around task-based collaboration, which provides a unique opportunity for kids with various skill and capabilities to work and learn together.
So, how do you inculcate scientific thinking and a growth mindset in kids to prepare them for a technology-centred world?
Encourage Them to Ask What, How and Why Questions
A simple curiosity of “Why did the apple fall from the tree?” turned Isaac Newton into a widely recognized mathematician and physicist.
The basic foundation of STEM learning in young kids is based on challenging conventional thinking and encouraging good questions. One way to do this is by initiating such questions yourself.
A few sample questions that you can ask are:
- How does the wind move different objects?
- Why is the sky blue?
- How do pulleys and levers work?
- Why are stars so tiny?
- Why do we water plants?
The idea behind asking and encouraging your kids to ask these questions is to ignite curiosity and induce problem-solving from a young age. This can also be explained through the “love it and learn it” hypothesis – the more time someone spends thinking about and working on something, the higher the interest level is achieved.
Encourage a culture of exploration and asking such questions by taking your kids outside more often. Be proactive and take an interest in their homework and daily school learnings.
Young children are naturally curious and guiding them to ask the right questions can go a long way in getting them interested in STEM topics.
Play Logic Games
STEM is a way of learning and not another education model. Thus, to efficiently implement it, you must focus on developing a knack for analytical thinking and problem-solving in kids through everyday activities.
Logic games are a great and fun way to implement this.
Play puzzles, Monopoly, Hopscotch, LEGO, and other games that require a bit of simple addition, subtraction, logical thinking, problem-solving, and pattern matching with your kids. As they grow older, you can replace these with games like Chess, Sudoku, and Kakuro.
Logic games make it easier for kids to learn and apply scientific concepts by introducing them to key notions such as:
- Identifying patterns
- Sorting and arranging blocks
- Building structures
- Moving, rotating, and fitting things
Having said that, there is a thin line between encouraging kids to play these games and forcing them.
The conventional way of teaching subjects like math has led to developing a phobia called Mathematics Anxiety, especially among young students.
The idea should be to foster a love for technology and numbers in kids at a young age and not shove it down their throats. If your kids are reluctant to play logic games or solve puzzles, create a reward system or find other subtle ways of getting them interested.