Teaching STEM To Preschoolers Is Vital, By Adetola Salau
“Children have real understanding only of that which they invent themselves.” – Jean Piaget
When I bring up STEM – one of two things happen – either people think of coding/robotics or they think of complex mathematical equations, daunting engineering problems, or complex biological processes.
Yet it is different with young children, children are natural and curious explorers of the world – they are scientists already. So our goal should be to nurture their curiosity. This leads to establishing STEM learning habits early on. My research studies have led me to realise that teaching STEM in the early years leads to better learning outcomes in school later on. STEM in the early years makes a difference in children’s lives – not only in the STEM domains, but in others as well
Extensive research has shown that children’s knowledge and skill in mathematics as they enter kindergarten has a direct correlation with how well they will do in math — and in reading — in elementary school and in secondary school, later. High-quality mathematics teaching develops children’s cognitive skills which are the mental processes involved in planning, focusing attention, and switching among mental tasks.
Children learn about the world around them by the beginning of kindergarten and this knowledge has a linear relationship with their science achievement in middle school Science is associated to executive function, children with higher executive function skills also tend to learn more science over the course of preschool. There is a bidirectional relationship between children’s science knowledge and their positive approaches to learning (such as being persistent, focused, and collaborative).
Even though most preschool programs don’t have allowances for engineering and technology,, we are hopeful that this changes in the near future. As the World Economic forum has stated-: creative problem solving in many areas of school and life could be derived from allowing children with the opportunity to work on problems collaboratively and to design. This exposes preschoolers to the engineering design process
When we support high-quality early STEM instruction for children, we support differing levels of understanding or language development (for example, providing hands-on experiences in science is good practice). In addition, there are specific strategies that build STEM content as well as English- and another-language such as reading books with STEM content in this language.