Encouraging kids to be interested in science, technology, engineering and math is something that many parents struggle with. The fact is that many parents mistakenly believe they themselves need to be proficient with STEM in order to help their kids, or feel uncomfortable promoting it conceptually to their children because they remember struggling in those subjects as children, too. But the truth is that all parents really need to help their kids develop an interest in STEM is a positive attitude and a willingness to learn alongside them. Here’s how:
1. Be a positive role model! Kids are always listening to their parents. They may not always be in the mood to “listen” when you need them to do something, but they are always listening to what you say. Make a conscious effort to avoid casting science and math as things that are “too hard” or “not for me.” Instead, focus on the fun of learning about something new as an adventure or a worthwhile investigation. It’s OK to admit you don’t know a factual answer to a science question, but make finding out about the answer something fun to do together.
2. Encourage curiosity! At the Science Center, we are big proponents of the simple phrase, “Stay Curious.” Sometimes as adults it’s hard to remember how even the simplest experiences for children can be truly eye-opening. Helping your kids stay curious about the world around them is a key factor in building their confidence when it comes to the STEM fields.
3. Get outside! You don’t need an expensive computer, a fancy lab or even a toy store microscope to engage your kids in the world of STEM. The great outdoors is the perfect place to begin encouraging your kids to look deeper into the world around them. The stars, insects, weather, backyard birds, the changing color of leaves, and more can all provoke a sense of wonder and encourage further exploration and discussion.
4. Visit a museum! Science centers and museums promote STEM education through hands-on learning; we make STEM come alive! Our exhibits are designed to get guests of all ages learning science through doing science; we encourage hands-on exploration and experimentation. Informal science education opportunities like those available at the Science Center illustrate the concept that when it comes to science, there’s no absolute one right way to solve a problem and failure is only a learning experience.
5. Find the STEM they already love! Another concept the Science Center often promotes is that science is truly part of our everyday lives. From the food we eat to the forces of motion that get us around, there is no part of life that STEM can’t be applied to. Chances are your child already enjoys sports, LEGOs, gaming, baking or playing an instrument. A great way to stimulate interest in STEM is to show how it applies to an activity they already enjoy and encourage them to learn more about that relationship.
Submitted by Great Lakes Science Center. Great Lakes Science Center at North Coast Harbor in downtown Cleveland is a great place to start! Visit us on the web at GreatScience.com and plan your visit. And remember, Stay Curious!