Benefits of STEM in Early Childhood Education

According to the Department of Labor, over 65 percent of students will grow up and fill jobs that do not exist yet. This striking statistic speaks to the changing workforce landscape and the imperative need for educators and parents to pivot teaching and learning approaches to meet these new needs. One way to prepare students for success in their education and future careers is through early exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities. Aside from the direct academic benefits, which are plentiful, this early and consistent exposure also helps students to strengthen the 21st-century skills they will use throughout their lives. 

In this blog, you will explore the various benefits of implementing STEM in early childhood education.

Developing Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

STEM activities encourage students to think critically and approach problems in new, unique ways. Through early exposure to STEM, students have the opportunity to strengthen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, preparing them for success in college, the workforce, and their personal lives. 

Below are three STEM lessons that help students strengthen these key soft skills:

  1. STEM Design Dominos: This hands-on lesson encourages students to think critically and creatively when solving problems. 
  2. STEM Sports® FUN-da-MENTALS: During this Teachers Pay Teachers lesson provided by STEM Sports®, students take a different approach to how they view both sports and STEM.
  3. Engineering a Fidget Spinner: By creating their own fidget spinner, students learn about the need for engineers to think critically about what they are constructing and problem-solve to ensure they are presenting the best possible solution.

Encouraging Curiosity and Exploration

Children are naturally curious. They explore and ask questions in an attempt to better understand the world around them. That is to parents and educators benefit when introducing students to STEM learning. STEM is the perfect way to help answer the why questions, showing them how science, technology, engineering, and math connect to things they encounter every day. 

Here are STEM lessons for each age group that encourage curiosity and exploration. 

Building a Strong Foundation in Math and Science

Through early implementation of STEM, students will gain a level of comfortability and confidence in these subjects. Early childhood education is when students form the foundation that the rest of their academic and STEM careers grow from. This makes it an extremely important role for educators, who are responsible for ensuring students have access to quality STEM education that allows them to build a strong foundation for future success.

Enhancing Creativity and Innovation

STEM lessons often push students to think outside of the box, finding creative ways to approach scenarios. STEM is often referred to as STEAM, which includes the addition of art to the acronym. This is done because, within STEM education, students use their imagination and creative thought processes to create innovative solutions and inventions. This skill is what allows the STEM workforce to continue to make strides that change the way we live and function in our everyday lives.

Promoting Social and Emotional Development

When participating in STEM lessons, students are not only exercising their STEM skills, yet strengthening their ability to work with others in a collaborative setting, communicate their thoughts and ideas, and how to continue persevering through challenges. These are all skills found in successful adults. By giving students the ability to exercise and strengthen these skills in their early education, they will be better equipped to enter the workforce ready to contribute and make an impact.

Preparing for Future Academic Success

There is a direct correlation between early exposure to a subject and a student’s short and long-term success. As educators and parents, we are setting children up for a lifetime of STEM literacy through early and consistent exposure to STEM activities and lessons. That is not to say students do not have to continue to work hard throughout their education to achieve their STEM goals, because they do. However, the early implementation of STEM learning gives students the confidence to tackle difficult STEM courses head on, confident they can achieve any goal and comprehend any topic, no matter how difficult.

The Lasting Impact of Early STEM Education

There are many benefits to implementing STEM lessons during early childhood education. From creating a strong academic foundation to strengthening their 21st-century skills, there are endless benefits to educators and parents taking this approach to learning. 

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