A Parent's Guide to Teaching Basic STEM
Many parents find their children’s inquisitive nature to be irksome sometimes. Questions like “why is the sky blue? / why is the grass green? / why do birds fly? / how do cars operate?” The constant stream of 'whys' and 'hows' may get to a point where some parents just cut their children off and become irritated.
This might earn them a moment of quiet, but by doing so, they might also have inadvertently negatively impacted their children’s love of learning and passion for STEM. As inquisitive children wanting to learn more about science, technology and the world around them, having their parents show them a negative reaction might turn them away from this passion of theirs.
This happens very often to children worldwide. It isn’t the parent's fault either, as they might not have known better. However, to ensure that you help your child nurture their inquisitive nature, here is a simple parent’s guide to teaching basic STEM skills.
1. Answer The 'How’s' And 'Why’s' Earnestly.
It is scientifically proven that children’s minds will be ravenously hungry for information and absorb it like a sponge, especially from their childhood to their early teens. Thus, many parents acknowledge this as the perfect and most crucial period for a child’s learning development. What they learn during this time of their lives might actually play a large role in the passions they develop and the careers they choose in the future.
However, it is understandable that when a child has an unquenchable thirst and drowns you in questions, you might feel mildly annoyed. Yet, asking them to go and look for it themselves or asking your spouse for the answer is not the best way to go. To help nurture your child’s burning curiosity, you’d want to slowly explain concepts to them.
For example, most of your children’s questions would be related to STEM and the world around them. Such as why is the sky blue? Why are leaves green? Why do we have snow?
All of these curiosities shouldn’t be brushed aside but instead explained and explored in detail. In some cases, however, parents do get stumped by the surprising complexity of the answer. Well, when that happens...
2. When In Doubt, Do Your Research
Google can be your best friend. When it comes to STEM questions that stump you, instead of lying or coming up with a story to sound like you know, admit that you aren’t sure yourself, but would love to find out.
When you make up stories to stop the stream of questions or give something along the lines of “because I said so”, you’re not actively nurturing your children’s inquisitive mind of STEM but instead turning them off from it.
The next time a question stumps you, or there are too many questions at once, you could try saying that the both of you can research it together, get on google and get searching. Not only might you learn something new, but you’re also potentially strengthening your bond and trust with your children. Most importantly, as your children cherish this moment of learning, it might spark an extra passion for research inside of them.
3. Be Emotionally Invested In Your Children’s Passions.
As obvious as this step may sound, you’d be surprised at how many parents overlook their children’s budding passions. This can be due to many factors, such as parents thinking it's a fad, or that their children are just hyperactive and will calm down.
However, this is far from the truth. The restless and inquisitive nature is because your child’s brain is developing at a rapid rate. Between the age of 3 - 13 is where their brains are trying to gather as much info as possible to shape them as people. Whatever they pick up during these formative years is more likely to stick with them throughout their lives. At this point is also when they’re most vulnerable to influence.
By brushing off their passion, you might potentially be killing a bright future for them. They might lose interest in STEM because you don’t show as much enthusiasm as they do, and whenever they’re trying to engage in conversation, you tend to brush them off.
The best way to support your children’s development is to be as emotionally invested in their interest in STEM as much as they are. Show that you’re having a blast whenever they’re having fun, and learning is a great experience for you, as it will reflect upon them as well.
If you've noticed your child has increased interest in STEM-related topics, maybe an after-school program or camp is a great option to build upon that curiosity. Find your local Engineering For Kids location to learn more about programs in your area.