Importance of STEM Education in Early Childhood Education
Children are extremely curious by nature, with a burning desire to try new things out, make discoveries, and explore their surroundings. This habit of exploring new things and questioning everything around them lays a solid foundation in early childhood and remains with them for the rest of their lives, helping them succeed in all spheres of life.
Early Childhood and STEM:
In simple words, STEM refers to a blend of mathematics and science with technology and engineering. Nowadays, STEM is considered to be quite synonymous with the idea of experiential learning. STEM education evangelists promote and support introducing these four disciplines to children through hands-on experience.
Recent studies suggest that STEM education helps children understand the world around them and relate to it in a meaningful manner. Instead of just reading about certain concepts, it helps them live these concepts. At times, these concepts may relate to real-life problems which they need to overcome by finding out proper solutions. This, in turn, helps inculcate innovativeness, creativity, and problem-solving skills in them. As many educators believe, there is no better time than early childhood to build a foundation by developing new habits. Therefore, learning these skills comes extremely naturally to them in early childhood.
The application of STEM also has a lot to do with the importance of memory retention. Loci’s method of memory enhancement associates facts with a task or place. When children experience or practice something on their own, they are more likely to remember that particular event compared to just reading about something. Through traditional learning, retention of knowledge is only around 5%. In case of STEM learning, this percentage can be as high as 90. Therefore, there is no doubt that STEM is a smart choice for our children.
Incorporating STEM in Early Childhood Learning:
As far as getting your child started with STEM education is concerned, the earlier you can start is better. The best place to start is the kindergarten. The idea of introducing different concepts of science and engineering to your little one may appear to be an uphill task. However, there is nothing to worry about because you need not teach your child the complex concepts of organic chemistry or quantum mechanics.
First of all, explain the concept of STEM to them. Provide them a basic understanding of science, mathematics, technology, and engineering and tell them how these four disciplines make our lives better. Get started by introducing simple concepts such as counting, measurement, addition, and subtraction with the help of activities that are interesting and fun.
The next step is to explain how STEM learning will help them grow and develop. Talk to them about personalities known to them that have excelled in life with the help of STEM. This may encourage them to build careers around STEM.
STEM education at school is extremely essential, and it should not be restricted to school hours. Teachers must encourage parents to continue the STEM learning journey after school hours at home. If required, the teachers should also take the onus of educating even the parents on the preliminary concepts of STEM education.
If you have more questions about introducing your child to STEM, please contact our expert early childhood educators at WillowBee.