Why STEM subjects are going to be vital to your child.
This week My Primary Tutor are focussing our attention on STEM subjects, and their importance in primary education.
What are STEM subjects?
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but these are very broad terms and include lots of more specific areas such as aeronautics, biochemistry, computer science and civil engineering. It has risen in prominence in education as more and more jobs become available in these areas, with not enough young people choosing to study them beyond GCSE. There is also increased awareness of ensuring that women are able to pursue careers in STEM, since statistics show that a disproportionate number of STEM graduates are male.
Why is stem important in primary education?
STEM is a very natural area for young children to want to explore! Because children experience so many things as ‘new’, they are very natural scientists – constantly questioning, exploring, and pushing boundaries. Almost everything children do involves the exploring of their world which, at its most basic level is what STEM subjects are all about.
There is also a school of thought (which will be familiar with those of you who follow Montessori education) that children naturally know what they should be learning and when they should be learning it. The fact that so many children show a natural early interest in STEM subjects is a great indicator that we should be allowing them to follow that interest wherever possible! Starting them early can help to engender a lifelong love for a subject.
One of the reasons that children enjoy science so much is to do with its practical nature. Children love to play and learn best through play, and science is basically just that – playing in a structured way in order to learn more about something.
There are other great reasons to be promoting STEM subjects with younger children too. Following these subjects can enhance other, secondary skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem solving, all of which are becoming increasingly important in an ever more connected world.
If you’d like to learn more about the importance of STEM, the National Parent Forum of Scotland has produced a fascinating leaflet with loads of information and directions to resources.
How can we support our children in following STEM subjects?
Make STEM a family sport! Be supportive and interested in what your child is trying to find out. When your child asks a question about how something works, or why something is the way it is, try to find some time to help them to investigate! Children learn from the people they love the most, and if they see you being inquisitive and curious, they will be too!
Talk about how you use STEM in your work. Young people are far more likely to pursue STEM subjects past GCSE if they can see how they might be used in a career path.
Experiment together! Lockdown has brought with it some lovely subscription boxes for children that contain materials for an experiment, along with information about the science behind it. It could be a monthly treat! There are some great ideas for STEM boxes here (the writer has personal experience of the Kiwi Box and highly recommends it). There are some great ideas from the Scottish Government for home science experiments for a wide age range of children right here.
Encourage digitally inclined children to take an early run at coding. Scratch Jr on a tablet at KS1, or its older sibling Scratch for over 7’s are very engaging and have been designed by scientists to teach children the basics of coding.
Get your Lego on! Lego is the very definition of STEM. It encourages creative thinking, construction skills, science (try building a tall tower that won’t fall over) as well as engineering. Lego Technic is great for slightly older kids, and kits can often be found at a very reasonable price second hand in places like eBay or Facebook Marketplace.
If you would like more information on how we can help you to support your child in STEM subjects, send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to head on over to our Facebook Page where we’re going to be sharing some of our favourite STEM home activities this week!