Former President Obama believed that all children deserve an education that would give them opportunities in future jobs that relate to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It will help the child, as well as the nation. He began the “Educate to Innovate” campaign in 2009. From those days until today, an education budget is in place for more teachers to be trained in STEM/STEAM bringing forth this advancement in education for all children from the early grades and onward.
What is STEM Teaching?
STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Many preschools now take this philosophy of teaching and incorporate it into the learning centers young children visit daily. It’s never too early to conduct brain building with STEM. Teachers now take themes and subjects and present the curricula in a new way.
- Science is a way of thinking through experiments, observation, making predictions, asking questions, and deciding how things work.
- Technology is a way of doing. With learning tools, kids become inventive, identify problems, and make things work.
- Engineering is also a way of doing. A child can solve problems with a variety of materials – they design and create. Little learners build things that work.
- Math is a way of measuring. Preschoolers explore shapes, size, volume, and learn about patterns and sequencing.
STEM preschool teachers are facilitators that provide the materials and allow their students to become creative in varied activities. Groups work together – they experiment, observe, and use critical thinking to conclude the question. Teachers do not give answers to STEM activities. They ask open-ended questions and promote the process, as it’s more important than the end product.
What Type of Activities Can Your Child Expect?
We know that young children learn by play exploration and the use of their senses. While it may be an accomplishment for children of this age to recite the alphabet or count to 100, it is equally important to support their natural curiosity and desire to learn by giving them rich and meaningful teachable moments. Most preschools today use centers for learning – places where young children gather together to foster development by means of literature, building centers, science, dramatic play areas, cooking, art, and more. With STEM and STEAM (adding in art) programs these traditional lessons can be expanded to an even higher level.
Take building for example. Preschoolers love to construct with blocks. They also can build 3-D structures with household materials and nature finds. In a STEM curriculum, children are given a variety of materials to create a metropolis and use thinking skills on how these buildings will be strong and useful.
Add in children’s literature to enhance this block play by reading “The Three Little Pigs.” Engage the kids in some engineering by making strong houses that the wolf can’t blow down. Teams decide which materials to use and proceed with building the strongest house. Together they use the scientific method to determine if they can blow the structure down. Some may stand and others may fall – this is where critical thinking prevails. Activities like this are entertaining for the children and STEM/STEAM principles are taught through play.
Why Enroll Your Preschooler in a STEM School?
is a time to socialize, play, and have fun, but with the innovative skills in STEM curriculums, children become problem solvers as they grow up. Starting early in a STEM-based preschool helps to focus on “growing” confident little learners who will become successful and also stand out as leaders.
- The White House: Supporting Our Youngest Innovators: STEM Starts Early
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Block Play and STEM Learning
- The White House: STEM for All
- STEM to STEAM