How to Help My Child Prepare for STEM?
Jobs and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are growing almost twice as fast as other jobs (source: Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment). Because of that rapid growth, our current and future workforce might not be able to meet the demand. As a result, those who get into STEM might enjoy a better economic future because of the low supply of qualified professionals.
Is it time to prepare your child for STEM?
If you want your child to have a bright future, it makes sense to prepare him/her for STEM fields and careers early on. However, is it too early and is it possible in the first place because of your child’s young age and rudimentary skills and understanding?
The right time is now especially if the goal is to stimulate interest and curiosity in scientific fields. For example, your child may now start to explore and appreciate the outdoors and nature. They don’t have to understand basic biology or ecology yet. The goal for now is to stimulate curiosity on how things came to be and why they happen. At an early age, they will start to wonder and ask questions but still find it difficult or impossible to figure out the answers. After all, the goal is not about arriving at the correct answers but about encouraging children to ask questions and wonder.
Even during ordinary playtime, children can start to understand the laws of physics. They will move and throw different toys and objects as they play. They will notice that if they let go of a ball, it will fall down and bounce. If they push a small chair, other things might also come along with it (e.g. those attached or placed on the top of the seat). In other words, they will figure out how the world works and several cause-and-effect relationships. That is science where we figure out how things work and why. Although there are still no equations and calculus involved, it’s still science.
You can notice that it’s about letting children play and explore. For now, they have to experience how things work before they can dive into complex equations. The goal for now is to stimulate interest and help children build a strong foundation (so they can better understand abstract and mathematical concepts later). It’s also important for them to develop social skills, resilience and independence so that they can initiate and sustain their own learning and interests in STEM.
That is our approach here at Teddy Bear Early Learning Centre where we take an integrated approach. We help children get interested in science, experiments and nature as well as support them in their playtime. We also explore and facilitate more advanced literacy and numeracy experiences so that children can build a strong foundation in STEM.