How to encourage children’s interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Children are curious by nature. They want to make sense out of things and find out how things work through their own experiments and experiences. In fact, according to a MIT study, every child is a natural-born scientist. The challenge is how to remain a scientist once we grow up.

Among different ways to encourage children’s interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), providing them with plenty of opportunities to play seems to be the most effective. Through playing children learn to observe, think, create and build.

As children move from age to age, we can motivate their sense of discovery through a mix of independent and guided playtime. Here a few examples of activities:

  • Be outside, observe nature and get dirty! It’s important to encourage children to make their own discoveries using all their senses.
  • Talk about how science plays out in our daily lives through cooking, gardening and other simple activities like observing the lunar cycle or watching the sunrise and sunset.
  • Use specialized books, websites and videos to complement and enhance children’s experiences.
  • Talk about STEM subjects in a positive way. Even if we feel overwhelmed about math or science, we should not discourage children from exploring these areas. Kids love to feel challenged in a positive way.
  • Choose quality toys that stimulate children to be proactive, not those that operate by themselves and limit creativity.
  • Encourage involvement in hands-on STEM extracurricular activities. Many schools and communities offer great clubs that encourage exploration and discovery in the STEM disciplines. Ask your school to equip their labs with STEM educational kits.
  • Connect your child with mentors in areas of interest, either friends or family members or through a formal school program. We all know people learn best by example but we don’t need to be scientists or engineers ourselves to motivate our children’s interests.
  • Help children to overcome challenges and not be discouraged by eventual failure. As some techie people say, "failure is a feature".
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