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It seems that there’s a lot of pressure on children to learn about STEM subjects before they’re even old enough to start school. Here we’ll talk about STEM in childcare and why it’s important for young learners.
Is STEM Relevant to Explorative and Creative Learning at the Preschool Level?
The response to this is twofold:
STEM is Futuristically Necessary
First, our children’s capacity to perform in these subjects is becoming more and more important. School is becoming highly competitive, the world is changing rapidly, and we need to make sure that our children are keeping up with the updated expectation in their education. It is vital to choose a school that accommodates this growing pressure.
STEM Can Be Taught Appropriately
The second response is easier news. When choosing a school, you can look at how these subjects are incorporated. They should be aimed at the childlike spirit and not be overbearing. This is where we have developed a very workable program to help. Aside from this, we do believe that using STEM learning to guide and develop their creativity is better than if it were free-play. This way, all their learning effort is identified and formalized.
STEM for Explorative and Creative Learning
STEM-based learning at daycare may be important but children should be taught in a way that relates to their age, otherwise, learning cannot take place. So here we have simplified for you, how we simplify STEM for your child.
In STEM, ‘S’ Is For: Science
“Seeing” is the first step to learning. In accordance with STEM, this is to make a child aware they are observing something. This is the basis of science. Whether watching insects or mixing “ingredients,” ask questions to see what a child notices and ones that push them to guess what could happen.
Science is taught through seeing and saying. With everything, try and make fun out of the idea that they should be taking in the details – like why mud happens or why bugs like flowers.
There is a lot of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ involved in schooling, but often at a young age, it’s best to see how much children can pick up on their own. Allow each child to develop by encouraging observation and feedback of each other so that each child knows the value of what the next learner is doing.
‘T’ Is For: Technology
Taking notes… creating the impression that what they have tried is important goes a long way to children understanding research. Make sure children are aware that you are recording their efforts and observations. Give them a chance to tell you what is important, and what they want to have noted.
Technology goes hand in hand with research. Teaching them to create notes will lead to teaching them to check their notes and look up things. It will also help teach the importance of specificity in tasks, like measuring.
Talk and take notes. Making it seem formal will let a child know that what they are doing has meaning and eventually that it relates to other things.
‘E’ Is For: Experiments
Experimenting is important. Even if a task is achieved, encouraging each child to try a different way, or observe and comment on a different child’s way of doing. This can help them develop problem-solving skills vital to STEM fields.
Giving children specific tasks – like building a structure out of blocks or shapes out of paper – can aid in engineering style learning when you talk about what worked and look at different ways of doing the same thing.
When a child understands that there are more ways than one to do things, especially when their own method fails, they are inspired to learn more. This counteracts the sense of failure that can come when there is no room, or reason, to explore.
‘M’ Is For: Mathematics
Making mistakes leads to better learning. When a mistake is made, there is a teachable moment happening. Turning this idea of “try, try again” into the process of learning methods will teach how calculations happen. They should be encouraged to do things, even incorrectly, then explanations, why it does not work can follow.
Mathematics comes down to formula and reasoning. When observations are made, with notes and experiments, then mathematical thinking will follow as they formulate their own methods in different tasks.
Learning to mentally measure things after making mistakes leads to critical thinking learning experiences. Counting out blocks and recognizing patterns in nature will come from these experiences.
STEM Encourages Natural Learning
While it is important to have the right tools and toys for STEM learning to take place effectively, it is also very important to use these toys in a way that pushes the boundaries of exploring. Sometimes natural or non-conventional apparatus are best. There are fewer set rules on how to use these, which means children are free to be creative and innovative. This idea works well with using recyclable materials, which brings even more innovative learning.
A lot of STEM learning happens through communicating correctly during playtime, and not allowing all those teachable moments where a child is already naturally engaged in something they are enjoying, to slip past us. This is valuable as there is a different part of the brain involved in learning when it happens through play.
Questioning STEM’s Place
By the end of our questioning, we find that research suggests our children, regardless of education, develop their own understanding of these concepts before school-age anyway. They are able and eager to understand things on a functional level. So, it is our job to make sure the ideas they develop that relate to STEM subjects at pre-school age are formed correctly.