Promoting scientific inquiry (early STEM learning)
Early STEM learning (in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is a very important part of our day and approach to teaching at English for Fun.
It is not only a way to build a strong base for learning in these areas as children get older, but it also serves to develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving, and to help them become better learners. For example, an early focus on math learning has been shown to help in the later development of literacy skills.
Young children are born researchers and they approach their world with a very scientific mind. They are curious, focused, and often times systematic about discovering the world around them, organizing new knowledge in their mind by finding patterns and consistencies, and making predictions which they later test.
It makes sense, as every single aspect of the world, things we don’t even think about, is brand new for them. However, at some point in their lives this joy and belief in their capabilities to figure out the world tends to disappear.
A lot of the blame can be placed in the way schools, from primary and above, are so focused on testing and academic learning by subject, that they disregard how these subjects work together. They forgot the project based approach that promotes connections, motivation, and leads to a more significant understanding of the concepts involved and builds confidence. Basically, that allows for better and deeper learning.
They way we, and young children in particular, discover the world is through play. In order to promote STEM learning it is important to foster curiosity about the way things work. This can be done through language and conversation, by provoking thought and wonder as they research, encouraging them to do so, and providing ample opportunities to
Everything from exploring sticky, to playing with water, to learning about animals and plants, to building and constructing, can be an ideal opportunity to explore STEM concepts. Even daily routines can incorporate a focus on STEM, like when we practice taking one or two pieces of apple from the bowl and hold one piece in each hand, or when we count who came to school today by tapping each child on the head in order to help develop one to one correspondence.