STEM is an acronym for SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH. The STEM approach to teaching and learning integrates the curriculum content with skills of science, technology, engineering and math.
Many parents ask us what age we think it is appropriate to start teaching STEM to children. At Early Learning Centers of Broward, we believe that it is never too early to start STEM education. Reasons are many – a few being that
- Young learners are naturally curious and questioning.
- Early learners are natural scientists.
- STEM education sparks a child’s interest in science, technology and math.
- Foundations of scientific learning are inquiry and exploration; both are elements of STEM.
- STEM encourages developmentally appropriate instruction as children explore the world around them.
For young children, we focus on STEM through EXPLORATION, PLAY, AND BUILDING CURIOSITY ABOUT THE NATURAL WORLD AND THE WAY THINGS WORK. For example, children learn about technology by exploring tools or simple machines and investigating how they work. These can be items they use every day like a pair of scissors, observing the wheels of a car, exploring at the park, watching a sunrise or by swimming in the ocean.
The research is quite clear that STEM education encourages the best practices in early childhood education. It shows the importance of breaking away from passive instruction to allow for more play and investigation. This kind of learning early in life builds skills, problem solving, abilities and interests that will serve children throughout their school years, and later in life. When discussing STEM-like education at home to their bi-lingual children, parents are encouraged to use both languages. In fact, research shows that bilingual children have greater mental flexibility, which may clarify math and in general many concepts.
STEM education integrated within early childhood education will tap into children’s natural curiosity and give them ample opportunities to be active participants in their own learning. Natural settings offer children almost unlimited opportunities to explore and investigate that leads to building STEM skills and creating a solid foundation for future learning.
Early Learning Centers of Broward is proud and privileged to have successfully incorporate STEM education into the Pre-K curriculum as well as afterschool. We encourage parents to continue this natural curious way of learning at home.