Are you interested in introducing STEM activities to your children? By introducing these educational activities at an early age, you can help form foundations for future careers and build up valuable 21st Century Skills. With more children homeschooling or distance learning, STEM at home has become a priority.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. You might also see STEAM, where the letter “A” stands for art. It’s natural to use creativity during STEM learning — many, therefore, interchange STEM and STEAM.
How Parents Can Get Started with STEM
We live in an automated and globally connected world. As a result, many strive to gain the STEM skills required to excel. Birth to age five represents the critical period for a child’s brain and neurological development. Experts recommend starting at-home STEM projects as early as possible as they have found no specific age to introduce STEM activities to your children.
Getting started with STEM activities for kids at home involves engaging them daily in activities. But these types of project-based learning activities go beyond creating a diorama, model of the solar system, or a replica of an animal cell. These examples are what many consider “recipe projects” where you follow the instructions exactly and everyone’s projects ultimately end up looking the same or similar. Project-based STEM activities are different in that they create an “artifact” that demonstrates the understanding of a specific concept or multiple concepts. This can be achieved through conceptualizing and building bridges, planning a meal by buying food and cooking, experimenting with coding, exploring nature, visiting museums (in person or virtually), and more. What else should these lessons include? Let’s explore:
Focusing on Hands-on Projects
At-home STEM projects focus on hands-on learning. These lessons concentrate on exploring the world, learning new concepts, and problem-solving. Children remember projects where they can build, create, or explore. Sphero's programmable robots and littleBits STEM kits encourage problem-solving through exciting hands-on STEM activities including coding, design, engineering, and physics.
Including Real-World Problems
Even though you don’t need to base every activity in the real world, you can still focus on these issues. For example, areas of focus could include climate change, energy use, or recycling. Real-world problems can be as simple as figuring out how a plant can receive more sunlight. Or they can be as challenging as finding new designs for harnessing energy.
Keeping Kids in Control of Activities
Sometimes, children cannot complete every part of STEM activities. But, parents can still base many projects on their child’s interests. For example, if your child loves space-related topics, consider exploring that theme. Whether it’s animals, dinosaurs, building blocks, trains, or another topic your child is interested in, they can all translate well into STEM learning. The more interested they are in the subject matter, the more engaged they will be.
Exploration and Having Fun
Incorporating STEM activities at home should not focus merely on learning targets or high test scores but rather on having fun while learning about your child’s interests and the world around them. Encourage your child to ask questions, come up with ideas and solutions, and explore. As they grow and mature, they’ll learn about scientific facts. They’ll also continue to build on their sense of discovery and exploration.
The Benefits of Starting STEM Education Early
STEM facilitates language development while encouraging independent and collaborative learning. Introducing STEM education early yields several benefits:
- Enhances and promotes emotional and social growth
- Supports the mind’s development of STEM-related habits
- Assists children with future learning of all subjects
- Helps children from every background build knowledge and explore
As children work on STEM activities, they develop various skill sets. This includes 21st-century skills like communication, flexibility, initiative, literacy, productivity, and social skills. Other benefits include coping with failure, thinking critically, and being creative. They also develop skills in curiosity, decision-making, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
Successfully Introduce STEM to Your Children
Parents can prepare their children to become tomorrow’s creators and inventors with STEM. By taking traditional learning concepts and pivoting them to prioritize hands-on experiences and real-world applications at home, parents can foster the development of their children’s innovative minds.