Learning and teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is important at all grade level. However, STEM education has generally put emphasis on elementary and secondary education settings, and only limited attention has been given to early childhood education settings. However, early childhood STEM education is developmentally appropriate and important for building a foundation of concepts, knowledge, and skills related to STEM subjects. An early foundation in STEM areas is important in order to assist our next generation to compete in the world market. Young children always have questions about the world and how things work. Therefore, STEM education is ideal to build on their natural curiosity and set the foundation for interest in math and science. Young children are also naturally drawn to discovery and experiential learning. Implementing STEM in early childhood education settings will help children develop critical thinking, questioning strategies and skills in order to enhance their abilities to be critical thinkers as they progress through their learning years. Students in early childhood education are already able to problem solve and apply their knowledge if guided properly. Therefore, it is critical to provide developmentally appropriate opportunities to explore STEM subjects. Moreover, many of the jobs in this country are related to science, technology, engineering, and math. With an increasing international need for technological advances to communicate via different forms of technology, it is significantly important to implement STEM into all grade levels and it will help students stay competitive globally. The sooner children to learn STEM concepts, and parents get involved in STEM education, the better this society will be.
STEM education for early learners should be both fun and developmentally appropriate. Simple experiments, games using mathematical concepts, construction activities, tinkering, and more are all appropriate for little ones. Here are some hands-on STEM activities that parents can do with their children at home:
Fireworks in a Jar
Making Rain Clouds
Growing Seeds with Toddlers
Author: Charlotte Cheng, CSULA intern