Engaging Young Children in STEM Activities

IMG_3888For the past four years, Boston Children’s Museum has been partnering with National Grid and a federal Race to the Top grant to create STEM learning kits for distribution to early childhood educators.  The Museum creates and distributes the Kits, then provides in-depth training to other museum educators and hundreds of early care providers.  Why is the Museum so invested in teaching STEM and creating a cadre of early learning professionals who are “STEM literate?”

Learning early STEM skills doesn’t mean that your child is destined to be a “scientist”, but it does mean that  you are helping your child  develop lots of the basic learning tools that they’ll need to support every aspect of their learning journey.

You don’t have to be a scientist or even “good” at science, to successfully guide your 0 – 6 year old into becoming a STEM-style learner.  What you can do is to follow these two simple guidelines:

  • Ask good questions. Focus on “what” instead of “why”.  Asking “why” implies that there is a correct answer and the child is being tested.  “What” questions, such as “What do you see?  What did you try?”, means you’re starting a conversation.  These conversations suggest that you are exploring alongside your child, providing them with a positive, inquisitive role model.
  • Encourage natural curiosity. You can lead your child toward discovery by encouraging their natural curiosity. Give them plenty of opportunities to handle materials with different textures (rough, smooth, hard, soft). Let them see what happens when they play with water or sand. Show them how to compare and contrast natural and man-made objects like rocks, shells, or balls.

So, go out there, get messy, and have some STEM fun!

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