When a child asks questions, the better the answers, the more content they are.
That is because understanding why things happen and how their world works is an urgent matter for a child's developing mind. Children naturally question, test, and repeat things that interest them until they have mastered understandings.
Because of these characteristics, it is clear that children are naturals at exploring STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) or STEAM (where arts is included) education. In recent years, many have wondered how schools can tap into STEM to give children a competitive advantage in the 21st century.
STEM Activities Embrace Logic and Inquiry
Logic-based activities are more prevalent in STEM preschool. Children compare and contrast information using their five senses. They use materials and toys like magnifying lenses, scales, and pulleys. Teachers may use charts, maps, and photos to share information during circle time.
Gross Motor Play And STEM Learning
To demonstrate STEM concepts, many preschools incorporate outdoor play and gross motor play. In art, children may use eye droppers instead of brushes to explore cause and effect. There may be wind machines or incline tubes on a play structure for children to test gravity.
Teachers Teach STEM Through Language
As with other teaching styles, a STEM preschool teacher is more of a guide than someone who is expected to know all the answers. Language is one way teachers naturally share information about STEM without having a formal education in STEM subjects. Teachers are experts in helping children express themselves and use their words to describe ideas, and this same skill applies to STEM education.
A teacher might ask a student, "How many more steps do you think we need to take?" or "How do we know the castle is sturdy enough?" They may refer to the precise names of shapes and formally introduce them. A STEM teacher, in general, keeps the pattern of curiosity-explanation-new curiosity constantly engaged.
Teachers Promote Critical Thinking Skills
Little Scholars Preschool, located Pleasanton, California, is a STEM-based learning center for young children. Linda Jung, the director, established a popular preschool and child care program that young children use as a playground and laboratory. When teachers create STEM preschools, they encourage a level of thinking that they know their students are capable of.
"Our students construct knowledge through interactions with materials, people, events, and ideas. Little Scholars Preschool is designed to encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. Most of our toys use critical thinking and problem-solving strategies. During play, your children are learning!"
Little Scholars Preschool
Early STEM Education Benefit Blacks and Minority Children
STEM preschool education will benefit black and minority children significantly. Currently, there is a disproportionate number of white students graduating from STEM majors. One way to level the field is to introduce STEM concepts at a young age to all children.
"Putting paper planes, microscopes, biology kits, circuit boards and coding games in the hands of black children will help spark a familiarity with STEM that could be very valuable in our rapidly changing economy,"says Calvin Mackie, President of STEM NOLA.
Kids Enjoy STEM Education Too
Fun and play are important components of the STEM curriculum, and children should continue to be themselves rather than always attempting to learn formally. STEAM adds an intentional layer to learning but does not replace playfulness.
Learn More About STEM Child Care Near You
When scrolling through the Wonderschool marketplace, parents will see tabs on the corner of each school that say what style of education the school offers. Both STEM and STEAM schools will be discoverable. Additionally, many programs have a STEM component, so it's worth inquiring with other schools about how they explore aspects of STEM curriculum with children.
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