STEM and Kids – Why is it important?

As part of my role as an early childhood educator, I have seen the benefits of STEM and its impact on a child’s learning and development. So, what is STEM?

STEM is a multi-disciplinary approach whereby children are immersed in learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in an integrated manner rather than as stand-alone learning areas.

In the everchanging landscape of technology, STEM in the early years is vital for building children’s skills and habits of mind, and, to promote them to develop a positive attitude and image of themselves as STEM learners which they will carry with them through primary and high school. Introducing STEM during early childhood helps form a foundation for their future success in all learning areas.

The current STEM teaching trends for early childhood focus primarily on patterns and relationships, location and arrangement, representations and investigations. A major benefit is children build skills that cross correlate between STEM and other learning areas and within their own daily lives. An example of STEM in action might be; exploring location and arrangement through describing the locations of landmarks in our garden using positional language, and then, progressing these skills to create maps of the outdoor environment in small groups; such a task requires children to integrate mathematical language and symbols, spatial awareness and use technologies to depict objects or to create a map with technology as the method to do so.

The long-term benefits of introducing STEM will be evident when selecting careers. In the future, our children will require analytical, problem solving and reasoning skills to engage in job roles that are yet to be created. These job roles will most certainly require children to possess skills and habits of mind that require them to persist and engage in critical thinking and employ ideas, methods and values linked to STEM education and learning.

Rachel Barge is the Educational Leader at Princeton Pre-School.

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