When 85 percent of a child's brain develops within the first five years of their life, what a child learns during that time can set the foundation for their future success. According to the National Resource Center, “current research indicates that young children have the capacity for constructing conceptual learning and learning the practice of reasoning and inquiry.” STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) is an educational philosophy rooted in reasoning, problem-solving and integrating knowledge. Many home educators, preschools, and learning centers are incorporating STEAM into their curriculum, as its role in early learning is becoming more recognized.
As a parent, you can give your children the early educational benefits of STEAM while spending the quality time with them that they deserve. Let's take a look at some simple ways to integrate STEAM into your child's everyday routine.
Go outside: A simple walk around the neighborhood with mom, dad, or a caregiver is both fun and educational. Pointing out the various plants, trees, wildlife, weather, and homes, can be a new learning experience. Ask your child follow up questions after the walk, such as "What did the squirrel look like?" "Where does it live?" "Was it hot or cold outside?" These questions will help them think about what they saw on their walk, and learn more about what they observed.
Build a fort: Help your child build a fort in the living room using blankets, couch cushions, throw pillows, and tables. Give them a flashlight to take inside and "explore the cave". This simple activity lets them learn to use tools to navigate their way.
Play with blocks: Building structures with blocks helps children create solutions to different scenarios. Whether it's to build a garage for their favorite racecar, or a castle for their favorite doll, children can use blocks to create whatever is missing from the scenario, therefore, solving a problem in the process. Ask your child to build you a house, and then ask them to put things in it. "Where do we cook food? Where is the bathroom?"
Create a masterpiece: Art is the cornerstone for creativity and learning. Children use art to convey stories, ideas, and to illustrate what they have learned. Ask your child to paint you a picture of their favorite planet, and ask them questions to help them explore why they made certain color choices, such as "Why did you choose that color for Saturn's rings?".
Help with chores: What better way to learn than to help around the house? A great way to help with the laundry is for your child to pair the socks – have them search the pile for a match and fold the matched pair in half. If they are helping load the dishwasher, have them count how many spoons, forks, and bowls they load. Make it a learning experience in more ways than one!
When one million new neural connections are formed every second, it's no wonder that children are always wanting to explore their surroundings. Encouraging their education where they feel most comfortable will help them develop a lifetime love of learning. Let them learn, let them explore – and more importantly, let them PLAY!
Photo by Little Tiny Learner
For some great toy ideas that encourage STEAM learning, check out Green Piñata's Guide to Educational Toys.
Which of these concepts are you already doing with your child? Which are you most excited to try? Share in the comments!