Inspiring our next generation of innovators to explore engineering through fun and education.
Children, no matter how young or old, can kickstart their road to Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) discovery. Many parents may not know how and where to start, or may even feel like you need to have a STEM background to successfully encourage STEM learning.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Igniting a child’s sense of curiosity and love for exploration through hands-on activities around the house can inspire you and your children. Might we add, it’ll even be fun!
But first, let’s nail down why STEM learning is so important.
Importance of STEM learning
We don’t want you to hear it from us – see one of the responses we received from parents/aunts/uncles who shared their thoughts in our #IWantToBeAnEngineer ChriSTEMas Giveaway:
“…It fosters inquisitive, imaginative problem solving. Our world is going to need solutions to problems that our generation hasn’t even thought of yet. Educating with STEM from an early age removes the limitations of traditional teachings…”
One of the great things about STEM learning is that it is so easy to adopt and adapt into our everyday lives, as well as to accommodate for various age groups, interests and abilities.
We’ve compiled five of our favourite (and simple!) ways you can encourage STEM discovery at home:
#1: Have a chat about STEM
Create a safe space
Children are naturally curious. Creating a safe space where your child feels comfortable to ask questions is the first step.
Encourage questions and discussions
Asking questions like “Do you think your math teacher likes her job?” also gets children thinking about the people they meet and what they do.
Paying attention to what really captures their attention will help you discover their interests perhaps even well before they do so themselves.
Guide your child’s career goals and aspirations
Especially if you have older children, ask about their career goals and aspirations.
If they don’t have any, that’s completely fine. Try and ask guiding questions like “What do you enjoy doing?” or “What is your favourite subject in school and why is that so?”.
This way, you can recommend professions that may be to their liking, and elaborate on what they do on a daily basis.
From there, you will be able to better help your child take steps towards learning more about their choice of career.
#2: Connect your child with STEM resources
Books, movies and shows are great resources to learn from as the characters would, more often than not, have some form of job. Exposing your child to a variety of resources and characters gives them more opportunities to think about STEM careers.
More informative books or programs are especially beneficial for older children. Whether they are about the history of STEM innovations, creating games or experiments at home, or an encyclopedia – these resources are packed with information that are far from boring.
Such resources highlight the importance of STEM professionals, and shows how amazing innovations have made an impact on today’s world.
#3: Get hands-on!
Reading and watching is great, but what’s better than getting your hands to work?
Children love to learn interactively as it engages more than one of their senses.
You can get:
- A STEM kit (once again, we’re giving away 10!!) and work on it together
- Supplies such as Lego’s, Playdoh, wooden blocks, cardboard boxes, tape, ice cream sticks, etc. so that materials are always available to express their creativity through home-made projects or experiments
#4: Make STEM applicable to everyday life
Make the most of everyday activities
Learning STEM skills can come from everyday activities such as:
- Cooking and baking – for example, it teaches science, nutrition, fractions, geometry, temperature, creativity AND they get to enjoy eating their creations
- Go on walks in nature or in the city – pay attention to plants, wildlife, stars, the weather, different infrastructure and vehicles
- Plant vegetables in the garden and monitor its growth
- Make a trip down to the zoo or museums
- Manage money and plan savings
Compliment your child
Compliment your child on how they’re doing along the way, by saying something simple like “You’re very organised when baking – I see you prepared your muffin papers in the tray and your ingredients before starting.”
Let them respond, and share how this skill of being organised is important in their future career.
This helps your child recognise their own strengths and how this is a very valuable skill to have in their future profession.
#5: Be a positive influence and continue to inspire
Guiding your child towards making a suitable career choice is different from dictating it to them. Children tend to look up to their parents and appreciate guidance, however not to be forced upon something.
Share with your child how you developed in your career to arrive at where you are today, and what your dreams are for the future. Feel free to share the mistakes you’ve made, but more importantly, how you overcame them.
Ultimately, the goal is to continue to encourage and inspire your child as some children may shy away from their weaknesses. You can play a big role in helping them feel confident, and let them know that it is ok not to master everything as long as they have a continuous learning mindset.