There is a growing focus on the need to better prepare our children with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to be successful innovators in a 21st century workforce. This is how STEAM education has gained popularity among educators, parents, corporations and institutions, and even governments.
In our recent dialogue in Bangalore with a group of elder student, parents, school teachers and educators we realized that although adults are keen on understanding the significance of STEAM and seek to be active participants in local community centers or schools what hold them back is a lack of confidence. Most parents, school teachers and educators come from an “old school system”, in addition most of them are non-digital natives and many are not in science related work fields. Combined they feel as if they do not have the qualification or authority to be part of STEAM education.
As a parent, you have a huge opportunity to improve STEAM education at home for your child, mainly through play. We are going to note below some suggestions for which you do not have to be an expert in science, technology, engineering, art, or math!
- Look for online resources to help you learn
The first thing you can do as a parent is to try and learn as much about STEAM as possible. There are many online blogs, courses, articles, case studies etc. available online. Many of these online resources will have ideas for activities, printable worksheets and much more. We recommend the LittleBinsforLittleHands website that has an A-Z list of open sources resources for parents. Learn with your children
2. Learn with your kids
Parents serve as role models not only through direct interactions with their children, but through the examples they set with their attitude and behavior within the family and in the outside world. Role models are often subjects of admiration and emulation. Through your personal qualities and achievements, can you inspire your kids to strive in STEAM topic. So if you or your kids is stuck with an idea or trying to understand how something works you can start searching for clues, scientific explanations, activities, readings together. This way you can start inculcating am attitude for life long learning.
One of our favorite resource is: https://www.howstuffworks.com/
3. Look for hackathons or maker’s communities
There are many science fairs, student hackathon competitions and maker challenges that parents can encourage their kids to be part of. You can look for such contest or competitions at ATAL Tinkering labs or even at community science centers. Finding STEAM-based competitions can get your child get involved in science and tech based projects and can encourage them to pursue STEAM subject further.
If your child works with a group of friends, it could start a tradition of participating in STEAM challenges. Not only will your kids be more involved but it could also lead to schools opening up to these new ways of teaching.
4. Look for STEAM toys or DIY kits
There are plenty of STEAM toys and STEAM-DIY kits available in the market. Before you make a purchase make sure you research about them, find out your child’s hobbies and interests and most importantly select an age appropriate kit or toy. In our following blogs we will be reviewing some of these toys.
5. Ensure access to digital
Parents are often worried if they are allowing their kids to have extended amounts of screen time. Although excess screen time in the early years may not be a good idea, it is important for your kid to have access to digital technology in order enhance STEAM based learning.
Our world is already infiltrated with digital technology at many levels, and we know that this is only going to grow. Keeping in mind the future scenario, it is important for young kids today to develop digital literacy also. Therefore kids need access to educational internet and digital devices.
Above all, encourage your kids to have a growth-mindset, i.e.: an attitude for being a life longer learner. By listening to what your kids want and encouraging them to work on STEAM subjects you can ensure your kids develop a love of learning and strive to be makers and problems solvers no matter what educational paths they take.
Harshada is an experienced design researcher, focusing on working with kids, education pedagogy and educators. She is the editor of Steamdaily bringing to your insights, updates, interviews, and thoughts of the rapidly evolving world of edtech.