There is a critical need for the US to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) literacy. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook: Overview of the 2008-2018 Projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationally 62% of all jobs today require STEM skills and too many of our students fail to graduate with these skills.
STEM learning doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t – take place just at school or in a formal educational setting. There are many ways for parents and caregivers to promote an interest in STEM topics and encourage the natural curiosity of children to help them explore the world around them.
- Make science, technology, engineering and math discussions a natural part of your daily routine. When you’re getting dressed talk about the temperature and how the seasons are changing. Discuss how the parts of a bike work together to help create movement. Look at the stars and the moon together. When you’re making dinner, talk about how you’re measuring and the temperature of the oven and how heat affects the food you’re preparing.
- When your child asks questions or shows curiosity about the world around him, use that as an opportunity to research ideas together. Look online, check out books from the library, ask scientists or teachers in your community. Encourage your child to be creative and curious – and seek solutions to problems and answers to questions.
- Keep building blocks, puzzles, and board games easily accessible for your children. Have family playtime where you do these activities together.
- Visit local science museums or parks and participate in activities there related to your child’s interests. Read books or magazine articles related to what you’ve seen and discuss with your child.
- View science and technology TV shows with your child or watch a video online. Discuss what you viewed and what your child learned.
- Try science experiments together. You can find many science websites, books, or videos that offer simple experiments you can do at home. Part of the fun can be gathering the items needed to perform it as well as setting up the experimental lab. Write down your results and encourage your child to share what he’s found with friends and family.
- Join or organize science and technology related groups on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn in order to brainstorm with other parents and caregivers. You may have local groups in your community or at school that you can connect with as well. Lego clubs and science clubs are becoming increasingly popular. If you can’t find one to join, start your own!
Share with us your ideas for supporting STEM learning at home.