Although the majority of my girls’ time is filled with play and active engagement, they are constantly observing, investigating and discovering the world around them. As all parents know, young children generate a crap load of questions which fuels their motivation to find answers. From being naturally inquisitive to developing sophisticated reasoning as they grow, these are all the fundamentals of STEM skills. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Once described as a field of study that helped immigrants get visas, STEM has expanded to being a curriculum or “the way of educating” for teachers throughout the globe.
So let’s engage our children in STEM early!
I was blessed to have a public school district that introduced a coding class in high school. To my surprise, I caught on very quick and excelled in programming. Understanding my strengths, I took this skill set and passion with me to college where I majored in Computer Science and Business and eventually started my career in a STEM field directly out of college.
But guess what…high school is too late in today’s world!
Now, as a parent, I understand the importance and the positive impact STEM has across all spectrums of learning, starting with early childhood education. Unfortunately, I also notice the lack of knowledge; resources and capacity that schools have to focus on early STEM learning. Don’t get me wrong…I am not saying this is the case across all school systems. What I am saying is most school districts are behind in ensuring our children have access to STEM experiences starting in PreK and Kindergarten. As a mother of 3 beautiful girls, I’m determined to foster STEM learnings and strategies early at home. Here are a couple of things you can do to incorporate STEM learning throughout your child’s day:
- Focus on the WHAT instead of the WHY. Asking “what” questions will require your child to focus on what is happening, what you are noticing and what you are doing – the basics to developing observation skills.
- Incorporate STEM into play. For instance, you can turn making applesauce into a STEM learning experience. Play sorting at a local farm to get the apples. While at the farm, have your child smell and touch the apples – ask them what questions about their experience. Go back home and have your child help with measuring ingredients – cultivating math skills.
- Solve problems. Get something in your home that you can take apart. Have your child identify how it works and make recommendations on how he/she can improve the design and/or usability. If feasible, actually do it!
In order to compete in a global economy, we must do better in engaging our early learners and give them exposure to activities to develop their STEM skills not only in the classroom, but at home as well. Remember, it is NEVER TOO EARLY to start STEM education!
Enjoy some pictures of M. Marie and one of her best friends enjoying a STEM Date Night at their school. They are both smart and brilliant Kindergartners.