10 Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Love STEM

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Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — collectively known as STEM — is a learning approach that focuses on one or more of these four areas of study. STEM has received a lot of attention over the past few years, especially in terms of primary and secondary education. In today’s world, the demand for workers with skills in technology and science is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that positions in information technology are expected to increase by 12% through the year 2028, reaching nearly 550,000 new positions in total.

But future employment is only one reason to foster children’s early interest in STEM. STEM education is believed to be an important factor in the development of language skills. It also fosters both independent and collaborative learning by encouraging problem-solving and communication skills. STEM learning sparks young children’s curiosity about themselves and their environment, providing them with the tools they need to form concepts via investigation and exploration.

In other words, your child can benefit in a number of ways if they become interested in these subjects from early on. Here are 10 ways to encourage an appreciation for STEM in your young child.

1. Start With STEM Early

It’s important to introduce STEM concepts as early as possible so that children develop their ability to question the world around them. Bring out your infant’s or toddler’s innate curiosity by providing them with the chance to learn through playful exploration of their environment. Toys with interactive elements can be good choices, but real items — such as a water bottle, a piece of paper with texture, or a piece of fruit — may be of more interest to them as they play. STEM can be completely approachable and fun for children of all ages.

2. Give Kids Toys with Controllable Parts

A review of three different studies found that 80% of children enrolled in preschool performed better than children who did not receive high-quality early daycare and education. This indicates that a solid early education is vital to a child’s learning experience.

But it’s not all about classroom learning. Creative play is essential for early development. Provide preschool-age children with toys that feature parts they can manipulate, including rattles and balls. Encourage them to control these parts in creative ways, such as erecting taller towers or changing the volume of the rattle by shaking it more gently or harder.

3. Foster Curiosity with Stimulating Toys and Games

Hands-on, creative play sparks inquisitiveness in young kids. Building blocks and LEGOs, tinkering centers that feature straws, string, colored tape, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks help develop fine motor skills and spatial reasoning. They also instruct children to make plans, form questions, and find solutions as scientists do.

4. Use STEM-Friendly Language with Kids

How you speak to your child influences how they learn. Even babies can benefit from hearing accurate and complex language. For example, you could describe a tower they’re building as “stable” or the delicate items they’re handling as “fragile.” Prompt kids to explain their reasoning by asking them questions beginning with “what,” “why,” and “how.” Encourage them to state that they can’t do something “yet” instead of letting them say they can’t do something at all; this teaches them that learning is a continuous process and that what they may not master today can be mastered in time.

5. Encourage Kids to Notice Their Environment

Prompt your child to take note of aspects of their world, like new blossoms on trees, weather changes, and the way objects flutter or float in the wind. Children frequently notice things that adults don’t, since adults are often preoccupied with their responsibilities. Science is largely based on observation, which leads us to collect data and create hypotheses. Kids can begin with the more prominent features of the world around them and progress to seeing the smaller details.

6. Take Your Child to Science-Centered Places

Take a trip together to botanical gardens, natural history museums, zoos, and other places designed for scientific learning. Prompt them to formulate questions about nature and science and then investigate to locate the answers. This teaches children that school isn’t the only place to learn about science — and that science, technology, and even math don’t need to be boring.

7. Take Kids Outside to Explore

You don’t need to be an outdoor enthusiast to help your child learn about the natural world. Kids have an inborn need to explore. Your backyard is full of items to teach them about, including water, grass, rocks, and soil. Gardening together can be an excellent way to discuss weather patterns, the life of a seed, and much more.

8. Allow Kids to Learn About Animals

With the appropriate supervision and safety precautions, allow your child to interact with animals. They can learn about the biology of your pet cat, the fish in their friend’s fish tank, and the various creatures at a petting zoo or county fair. Reading books about their favorite animals can prepare them for what they’ll see in real life.

9. Help Children Consolidate School Lessons

Approximately 25% of schools in the United States are private institutions. But regardless of whether your child goes to private or public school, your influence is important to sparking their interest in STEM areas of study.

Parents can help grade-school-aged kids to connect what they learn at home with what they learn at school. For example, you might ask your child to describe what they discovered in science class. Talking about what they’ve learned will help them to process and retain the information. Next, you can suggest that your child create a project of their own that uses what they’ve learned in class. This will foster independent thought and will also demonstrate to your child that school isn’t the only place where STEM education can occur.

10. Ask Kids to Explain Simple Mechanics

If you ask your child to explain how basic household items operate, such as a handheld can opener or a door hinge, you will help them to develop language skills around engineering topics. You’ll also prompt them to acquire a sense of mastery over their environment, which encourages them to think in terms of overcoming challenges rather than always asking adults to help them figure things out.

You play a crucial role in your child’s education, and that includes STEM education. Encouraging your young child’s natural creativity, innate curiosity about the world, ability to solve problems independently, and capacity for forming and answering their own questions will get them interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and they will be better equipped to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

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