The Role of STEM in early childhood

What is STEM Education

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects. This is used when talking about education curriculum, specific jobs, and a set of unique skills. 

Why STEM Education is Important

STEM skills are essential to a child’s success in their education, future career, and daily life. Regardless of if they will work in the STEM field, the skills learned and connected to STEM have a positive impact. The first step to STEM literacy is quality STEM education. This can be implemented by educators in the classroom, facilitators in after school programs or summer camps, and parents at home. 

In recent years, there has been an increased awareness around the importance of STEM education. This can be accredited to the rapidly growing STEM workforce and increased want for these skills during job interviews. Educators and employers have also seen a link between STEM literacy and stronger 21st century skills. These factors have increased the want and need for children to engage with these subjects regularly in order to exercise their abilities both in and out of school.

The Role of STEM education in early childhood

A great way to ensure a child’s success in STEM is an early introduction to the concepts. In this blog, STEM Sports® explains the role of STEM education in early education and the benefits it has for children.

Benefit 1: Enhanced learning

Hands-on STEM lessons help enhance a child’s learning experience, especially early in their childhood. This early engagement with these complex concepts allows children to exercise their mind, find their learning style, and improve their ability to work through challenges. 

By starting STEM education as early as preschool, children will learn to use their minds and imagination to navigate the world around them. This will benefit them as they continue through their education and begin applying their knowledge in real world situations. 

Benefit 2: Improve memory and retention

It is the responsibility of parents and family members to help them start to exercise their mind and develop essential skills early in a child’s life,. By implementing STEM lessons at home, children start to improve their memory and retention of what they have learned. 

Benefit 3: Collaboration skills

The ability to work in teams and effectively collaborate with others is essential in every aspect of life. Whether it is during their education, in a future job, or in their daily life, children need to be able to communicate with others and amicably work in groups to solve problems.

Many STEM lessons allow children to exercise this skill. By introducing opportunities to strengthen collaboration early in childhood development, children have a higher likelihood of being successful in this area earlier in their life. 

Benefit 4: Critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is a soft skill many employers look for when hiring a new employee. Critical thinking helps people to think strategically, approach problems logically, and find solutions in a timely manner. STEM lessons are a great way to exercise this skill with children. Because of the difficult nature of these lessons, children are forced to think deeply to solve the problem at-hand to understand deeply about what needs to be done. 

As parents and educators, we can start prompting students to think critically about their education and the world around them. This will benefit them as they continue to mature and eventually enter the workplace. 

Benefit 5: Problem solving skills

Introducing STEM to children early in their education supports their overall problem solving and reasoning skills. Through STEM learning, children will start to look at problems differently and formulate questions to better understand what they are learning. Children are naturally curious and parents can capitalize on this” want to know more”! By using various STEM concepts and lessons , children will learn to problem solve; a skill that will help them in their educational journey, as well as translating to various areas of their lives.

Benefit 6: Improve confidence in STEM subjects

STEM subjects are often seen as difficult, complex, and even daunting. When children are exposed to these subjects early in their lives, they gain confidence in these areas of their education. This confidence will allow them to continue taking STEM courses throughout their schooling and possibly pursue a STEM degree or job.

Benefit 7: Teaches communication skills

Oftentimes, there is a large focus on teaching students written skills. While these are obviously important, it is equally necessary for children to be able to articulate their thoughts. STEM lessons present children with complex problems they have to talk through to get the correct result. This skill will be beneficial as children grow and are continue to encounter complex problems both in their personal lives and at work. The ability to talk through situations to come to a mutually beneficial outcome is a great skill to incorporate into a child’s early education.

How to incorporate STEM in early childhood education

Implementing STEM with children for the first time can be intimidating for parents and/or educators. This does not have to be the case! When initiating STEM learning with children, do not take anything too seriously. Learn alongside them and work together to see what works best for your child. This will make learning fun and shows children that learning new skills is not something to fear. 

If children are used to learning and working through lessons heading into kindergarten, they will be set up for success as educators begin working through the classroom curriculum. The lessons do not have to be complex, any early exposure will be beneficial in both the long and short term of a child’s life.

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