The federal government spends $4.3 billion a year on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and training. In five years, there will be more than two times the number of STEM jobs there are now. In the next ten years, 80% of jobs will require employees to have technical skills. STEM jobs that require four years of education pay an average of 10% more than other jobs requiring the same level of education.
There are a hundred more stats we could provide, but one thing is abundantly clear: STEM has a future. It’s strange to think about your kindergartener having any kind of important role in the world right now. After all, they are still trying to feed spaghetti to the dog when your back is turned.
One question we get asked often is how parents can help foster an interest in STEM education at home. As it turns out, there is a lot you can be doing right now. Even though their career seems like a long way away, there are things you can be doing now to lay the foundation for a future in STEM. Here are some ways to get started:
Encourage their questions.
Psychology Today shares a study finding that children who are actively engaged with an adult will ask questions 76 times an hour. That’s more than one question per minute! As it turns out, question-asking is actually at the center of what it means to be a child.
Share their interests.
Curiosity is about more than just children asking questions. Psychology Today also found that children have a deep need to share their interests with their parents, and kids who feel that their parents do not share in their interests often express sadness and disappointment. However, when parents show genuine interest in their child’s hobbies, children are more likely to grow in their enthusiasm.
A study from California State University found that when children whose exploration and questioning was met with negativity from an adult, they would become withdrawn. Repeated experiences like this once cause feelings of helplessness and fear of failure.
Foster their interests.
Did she love the new dinosaur movie in theaters? Get her a book about dinosaurs. Does he love building blocks? There are plenty of toys that take a love for building to the next level by incorporating gears, magnets, belts and more. Think about ways you can support and grow their current interests.
Encourage project-based learning.
Project-based learning is a great way to get students excited about STEM. By engaging young minds in a fun and educational way, you can unlock curiosity in your children. Want to start small? Try launching a virtual weather balloon with your child here (it’s free). They will be able to see what a trip to the edge of space looks like!
Need More Information about STEM education opportunities and project-based learning?
Because we hear this question so often, we’ve actually put together an ebook that helps parents learn how to foster an interest in STEM education at home. Get our ebook so you can lay the foundation for a successful future now!