S.T.E.A.M. learning begins early. But S.T.E.A.M. isn’t about showing a toddler flashcards or teaching equations. It is the hands-on things that children do everyday.
Children are natural scientists. They try to figure out just how the world works by engaging in a series of steps called the scientific method. The scientific method includes observing, forming questions, making predictions, designing and carrying out experiments, and discussing. Even toddlers are using a basic form of the scientific method (or performing little experiments) as they explore and discover the world around them!
When we think of technology, cell phones and computers often come to mind. But the “T” in technology also stands for any type of man-made object. Technology includes simple tools such as pulleys, wheels, levers, scissors, and ramps. They support children’s cognitive development, because as children play with these tools, they observe and learn from the underlying cause and effect. These simpler technologies allow children to understand how tools help us accomplish tasks. Children can see the cause and effect behind them, like how adding wheels below a large object makes it easier to move, or how raising a ramp makes a ball roll faster.
Engineering applies science, math, and technology to solving problems. Engineering is using materials, designing, crafting, and building – it helps us understand how and why things work. When children design and build with blocks or put together railroad tracks, they are acting as engineers.
A creative mindset is critical for STEM subjects. That is why the arts was added to STEM to become S.T.E.A.M.. Scientists, technology developers, engineers, and mathematicians need to innovate and solve problems creatively. Children engage in painting, pretend play, music, and drawing. Research shows that early experience with creative arts supports cognitive development and increases self-esteem.
Math is number and operations, measurement, patterns, geometry and spatial sense. From birth until age five, children explore everyday mathematics, including informal knowledge of “more” and “less,” shape, size, sequencing, volume, and distance. Math is a tool children use every day! Toddlers learn early math concepts like geometry and spatial relationships when they explore new objects with their hands.
A great deal of S.T.E.A.M. learning happens during activities where children are given the opportunity to freely explore materials and make discoveries.
Our Early Learning Staff, foster S.T.E.A.M. exploration during play and social interactions through the use of scaffolding. Scaffolding means offering the right support and structuring the environment to take a child’s knowledge to the next level. Just as a scaffold supports construction, adults can scaffold a child’s experience. To scaffold an experience, adults can provide assistance by cuing, prompting, questioning, modeling, discussing, and telling. By observing what children are doing, and then asking questions and working with them as they develop their own understanding of the world.
Research shows there is a positive relationship between early S.T.E.A.M. experiences and future success in school. Children come to the world with an open mind and may be more likely to think outside the box.
Our S.T.E.A.M. Station, foster children’s development of S.T.E.A.M. skills by providing learning opportunities and materials that support exploration and discovery.
Preschoolers need time and exposure to science, technology, engineering, art, and math to develop a strong foundation for future learning.
S.T.E.A.M. learning encourages innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and creativity, resulting in a capable, multi-faceted child. Children build the skills necessary to navigate the world around them. Making connections between diverse skills and concepts is the way children learn best.
Coding isn’t just for computer whizzes or high school students….when introduced the right way coding for toddlers is a fun interactive (and hands-on) way to explore the beginning concepts of coding.
Understanding how technology works is important for the future of our preschoolers. Not only so they have the necessary skills to live in a future world, but so they can help build the future world.
Coding in simple terms is telling a computer (or website or app) what you want it to do.
“If we were teaching coding like reading and math, we would break it down into bite-size chunks, make it more fun with songs and stories, and give students two decades to reach mastery…. With coding we throw you in the deep end in high school or college and are surprised when most kids drown.” Grant Hosford, co-founder of codeSpark