It is just a waste of time to try to teach STEM skills to preschool-age children?
Countryside Children’s Academy doesn’t think so. We are proud to bring to the Sterling community a daycare that offers not only the traditional “big 4” of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, but also incorporates the A (for the arts) to offer a STEAM curriculum. This innovative approach to education has been proven in Finland, and Countryside is the first US daycare to incorporate this methodology into what we teach our children.
But can children that young actually learn anything that you attempt to teach them in these areas?
Of course they’re not ready to learn the calculate differential equations or split the atom. However, the earlier that children get exposure to these fields and develop the kinds of skills that they will need to use, the more likely they are to excel when they are older. Let’s break it down and look at how young children can begin to gain an awareness of these things.
Young children can begin to learn observation skills, studying the details of bugs, leaves, and other natural objects. They can also begin to develop an understanding of cause and effect, and start to understand that they can look for the cause behind an effect that they see in nature.
It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that children are sometimes better users of technology than adults are. However, it’s one thing to be a user of technology and quite another to prepare to be a developer of that same technology. No one knows exactly what technologies our preschoolers will be building in the future, but we believe that the young children who get the best head start will be the ones who contribute to the technology of the future. Even preschoolers can begin to engage in inquiry, logical reasoning, and interpreting information.
Little kids are born engineers. They work with materials, cobble together solutions, build prototypes, and accomplish the designs they have in their heads. Their designs may be simple and their building blocks may be legos, tissue boxes, straws, and tape, but their ability to appreciate engineering is innate and should be cultivated. From building a dam in a stream to making the tallest possible tower out of a given set of materials, children love to tap into their engineering side.
While a focus on math and science is good, there’s no such thing as being purely left-brained. Your child’s brain has two hemispheres, and both of them should be stimulated in order for that child to reach their maximum potential. Having instruction and opportunity to develop those right-brain skills is a crucial part of a child’s holistic development. Preschoolers love to paint, draw, and make things with simple materials, and we give them the opportunity to do just that in our classes.
Even mathematics has to start with the basics. Even the youngest children can begin to develop basic math skills, such as learning how to count, discovering the concepts of more and less, developing an ability to see patterns, and learning how to associate the written numerals with the number of objects. Learning these concepts will give children a solid foundation that they will only build upon as they grow up.
STEAM skills are not going to be optional to possess in the days ahead. The only question is, will your child be ahead of the curve or behind it when they enter school?