Did you know that the first five years of a child’s life form the foundation to how he will function later on in life? They learn rapidly and grasp more quickly in these formative years than at any other time throughout their life. Early learning, therefore, plays a pivotal role in the development of the young mind.
I clearly remember my school days. 7.30 AM – Maths. 8 AM – English. 8.30 AM – Science. 9 AM – Arts. The topics and books as easily forgotten as the ring of the gong that announced the end of that subject, only to be remembered again the next day when the teacher walked in. As I grew up, I often wondered if and how will this help me live and thrive in the real world. There was just no connection.
Thanks to the research in the field of education, we are now better equipped to utilize these crucial years into developing the child.
WHAT IS STEM?
STEM – One of the most talked about topics in education. It stands for four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is a unique approach to teaching and learning, that focuses on a child’s individual style of learning. It not only keeps the young mind interested and engrossed but also helps develop creativity and problem-solving skills in real-world scenarios.
The STEM methodology integrates concepts that are usually taught in silos, as separate subjects or as individual lessons. STEM puts more emphasis on the connection amongst these four disciplines in a way that they would relate to each other. It is an educational framework that brings reality into the learning experiences.
STEM is not just about Maths learning or technology learning, but it is a combination of any of these 4 areas that combined produces more logical thinkers and creates adults who can in their life ahead be employed in jobs that are related to science and technology. In other words also creating innovators and doers.
STEM learning starts at the age of 7. However, the foundation for the formal learning is laid down much before then.
Early START to STEM
- The important thing to remember is that children are natural learners. The key to starting early is by tapping into their curiosity by allowing them to explore and investigate the real world, to instill a lifelong interest in these fields. It does not have to be a subject. It can be an activity or a game or a toy.
- Immerse them in everyday activities and explain how they work. Then explain the concept behind it. Make it interesting, let them have a hands-on experience where ever possible.
- Plan DIY’s and get your child to assist you. Reward them with knowledge and appreciation. Focus more on the process and less on the outcome.
- Play activities that stimulate creativity and reasoning. Begin with learning about how things work by letting them test, explore and investigate with their tiny fingers, watching them change, listening to sounds, and feeling textures.
- Get them toys which promote STEM learning.
Being a mother to an inquisitive toddler, I am always on the hunt for ways to keep his sharp mind engaged. Outdoor play isn’t a year-round option for us owing to the extreme weather experienced by the city we live in. Hence more often than not, I rely on indoor activities, games, and toys.
And when it comes to selecting activity toys, I prefer to pick toys that not only keep my son engrossed but also add value and prepare him for what lies ahead. For example, the popular toy brand Skola create toys that encourage STEM learning. Skola’s ultimate purpose is to improve fine motor skills which certainly helps engineering, but more importantly using fingers helps children think clearly and enhances concentration and cognitive ability which is directly a STEM requirement.
For example –
Cascade cars help a child to understand cause and effect. This is where a child is exposed to science. It helps a child to register, process and comprehend.
Colour wheels encourage children to use fingers to rotate wheels and then find the matching colours which involves examination, observation analysis, and discovery.
This process is true for all Skola Toys and hence creates thinkers.
Learning is a never-ending process. It’s never too soon or too late to begin. But it’s always better to start early to build a strong foundation. Give your children the right resources and tools to get them started.
What do you think about early learning and building a solid foundation?