There’s no debate about it, your preschooler needs STEM now and in this post I will share 15 reasons to support my claim. I’ve taught in the Elementary grades for 14 years and for 11 of those years, school was what it always was: learning (mostly what the teacher selected, using books and simple resources sitting in a classroom).
Then 4 years ago, my school decided to become STEM certified and school became a magical place where students were more valued, listened to, where our classroom expanded past the 4 walls of each room and wonder and discovery became the norm.
We have amazing data, student, parent and teacher feedback to prove that Stem is great for students and it is even more important with younger students, like preschoolers, who are learning what school is like, how to learn and how to think. This is why I want you to know that your preschooler needs STEM now and I have 15 amazing reasons why. Before I share those 15 amazing reasons your preschooler needs STEM now, I thought it would be important to share some information about STEM.
What is STEM?
STEM has been a hot button topic in education for the past 10 years or so. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Sometimes, you may see it represented as its close cousin STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. No matter which way it is written, it stands for the same beliefs or practices, teaching students how to think and act by using the main skills and resources from science, technology, engineering and math. Some of those skills involve problem solving, researching, testing your ideas and improving your ideas. Here is a more thorough breakdown of STEM.
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What is STEM for Preschoolers?
Now, you may be wondering, What is or what would STEM look like for preschoolers? STEM for preschoolers looks very similar to STEM for other kids because it still focuses on the same beliefs and practices, the activities are just changed to make them appropriate and fun for preschool aged children. For example in a STEM activity on diffusion or how plants take in water, I might include weird and wacky colors for a preschooler to make the experience more colorful and memorable, whereas I may not need to be as colorful for older kids.
Why STEM for Preschoolers or What are the Benefits of STEM for Preschoolers?
Are you still not quite convinced that your preschooler needs STEM? Well, let me ask you a few questions:
Do you want your child to be a good problem solver?
Do you want them to ask questions?
Do you want them to take ownership of their learning?
Do you want them to be confident in reading and researching to find out about unknown things?
If you answered yes, then your preschooler definitely needs STEM because STEM will help your preschooler to develop all of those skills and more. Actually, here are 15 amazing reasons you need to start STEM with your preschooler now.
1. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them Experience New Things
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of my preschooler saying he is bored and there’s nothing to do, even though I’ve given him a million suggestions and he has about that many toys. One way we've tried to deal with that is by approaching "normal" activities in a new way. One example has been with our morning walks. STEM lets children experience new things or even make new experiences from old things. Below, I will give an example of how STEM gave new life to my son’s lego blocks and cured his boredom for several hours.
2. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them Model Asking Questions
I know, I know, who would want to teach a preschooler to ask more questions. Before you call me crazy and close out, give me a chance, lol. Do you want your toddler to ask real questions and not just say 10 different ones to be talking? Well, STEM will help with them. They will learn how to ask questions to gain knowledge and understand instead of just talking to hear their voice (you can’t escape this entirely, but will see an improvement).
3. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them Learn to Listen and Ask Follow up Questions
Another skill that STEM will help your preschooler develop is how to actually listen. My son used to hammer rapid fire questions off, without giving me a chance to answer. It was frustrating because some of the questions were really good and I wanted to help him understand.
Now that we’ve started using simple and easy STEM preschool activities at home, he actually listens because the STEM activity was usually his idea and he wants to know the answer or need information to work on his plan. Once your preschooler has listened, be prepared for follow up questions as they try to begin brainstorming how they want to go about their plan.
4. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Experiment
I do not know a single preschooler who doesn’t like experiments. My son wakes up talking about the experiments we can do and all throughout the day as we encounter problems, he keeps telling me of other experiments we could do. For example, one day when he was helping me to cook, I was complaining that both my husband and I had forgotten to take the chicken out to thaw for dinner. My son immediately wanted us to do an experiment to see what would be the fastest way to unfreeze or “help it escape.” He said we could use his Power Rangers action figures, freeze them and then try different ways of getting them out.
For this STEM for a preschooler activity, we froze 3 Power Rangers and then he came up with the plan to put one on the concrete in the sun and one on the concrete in the shade. He decided to save the third for another day. Within minutes, he started noticing changes and was able to conclude that the Power Ranger in the sun would escape first. Then, I was able to ask questions about why that was the case and how we could use that with our frozen chicken problem. He quickly laughed and said we couldn’t put it on the concrete because it was dirty.
5. STEM for Preschoolers Helps Them to Read