Make STEM subjects interesting and accessible for the children in your care
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) aren’t just well-paid career fields, they’re also industries that help the world live healthier, happier lives. Whether it’s a new understanding or a better understanding of how the world works, STEM adds depth and value to our existence in a wide range of ways.
Encouraging children to appreciate STEM-related subjects can provide them with a more comprehensive education while also contributing to the future of our global community. Introduce the children in your care to science, technology, engineering, and math with the following activities and ideas.
STEM is all around us, and you’re probably already doing more that fits within these categories than you realize. An important part of teaching STEM is recognizing it as it already exists in our day-to-day lives.
It’s not all high-tech materials like iPads and microscopes; STEM can be easy enough for babies to enjoy. The simple act of letting infants pour water from measuring cups into bowls, playing with stacking cups or rings, or using flashlights is a basic introduction to science. They don’t have to recognize the physics behind their actions – the goal is for them to have fun exploring until they’re capable of making more advanced connections.
Pointing out people in STEM-related fields helps familiarize young children with various professions and the categories they fit into. If a book or video includes a marine biologist or a mechanic, explain what characteristics are necessary to work in that industry, such as a sense of curiosity or the persistence to problem-solve. Encourage children to role-play as doctors, astronauts, or scientists, and explain that when they’re building with blocks, they’re doing the same type of work as an engineer.
Teaching children how big each of these fields are increases the potential for interest. When you talk about science, emphasize how it includes space, animals, the ocean, medicine, and experiments. Technology isn’t just computers; it’s movies, music, animation, inventions, and more. Engineering includes buildings, transportation, bridges, and robotics, to name a few. Math can involve money, shapes, graphs, and speed or velocity. Show children how STEM fits into their everyday lives, and how they could be a part of that someday.
Teach the process
Helping children acquire the skills needed for STEM careers benefits not only their future professional path but also their personal life. Patience, perseverance, curiosity, observation, problem-solving, critical thinking, courage, communication, and creativity are all important elements of STEM jobs – and also of leading a successful life.
The world needs dreamers and doers, and STEM fields have an unlimited capacity for both. Whether it’s solving environmental issues, exploring the universe, or inventing the iPhone’s eventual replacement, STEM adds more peace and prosperity to our lives as individuals and as a community. Help the children in your care reach their full potential by highlighting the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math in your caregiving curriculum, and have fun teaching them how the world works.
The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers. Learn more about how we can help you improve the standard of care.