It’s unsurprising that children who have confidence in their abilities tend to be more successful in their studies – and that confidence isn’t just built within the school gates. Teaching kids about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) early on helps lay the foundations for deeper learning, and parents can play a big role in supporting this.
Leading chemistry specialists Radleys share their top tips for getting kids excited about STEM subjects.
Look outside the classroom
Demonstrating that STEM doesn’t just happen inside the classroom can really open children’s eyes. And it’s true – we use skills from these subjects as an everyday occurrence. Maths at the supermarket, science when we talk about the weather, even something like travelling in the car can put these basic skills to the test.
Why not put their knowledge to the test in a shop by getting them to figure out the change from a £10 note? Or work out fractions and percentages with products in the sale? Quick calculations are great brain exercises, and they’re simple yet effective.
Make it fun
It’s a tried-and-tested method, but when you disguise problem-solving as a fun and engaging activity, kids get excited about it without even realising! And if they think maths is “boring” or they’re “rubbish” at science, it’s all about trying to change their attitude. These subjects can feel overwhelming, but if you apply them to everyday life they can learn in all kinds of different ways.
Let them lead with regards to what they’re interested in. When you’ve figured this out, you can focus their learning around that – and the fun can begin!
Getting hands-on and stuck in is one of the best ways to learn, with plenty of intellectual benefits. Something like baking a cake is a great example of using essential skills like maths, science and communication. They can measure out the ingredients, and experiment with substituting different textures and flavours. It doesn’t have to be limited to baking, either – you can link it with any of their hobbies, from ballet to football to painting.
Think about future skills
STEM skills are an essential part of laying the foundations for a child’s future – and can even pave the way for a career in STEM itself. Get them thinking about what the future might hold; kids love to role play, so you could build this into the game. Whether they want to be a maths teacher or a pharmacist, getting them excited for a potential career is a great way to help them enhance the skills they’ll need.
Keep them curious
The most important thing to remember is that if you keep their minds curious, their enthusiasm will soar. Why not take them on fun, educational days out to places like the aquarium or museum? New places spark curiosity naturally in children, and present an opportunity for them to ask plenty of questions and think in a different way. Who knows, you might all learn something as a family!
Planning an outdoor adventure is another great way to stimulate their creativity. Go to the park or for a walk around your neighbourhood, and get them to collect some of nature’s souvenirs along the way. Leaves, pinecones and rocks can all be brought home and studied in more detail. Give it a go!