Kidstuff: teaching STEM for early childhood skill development
As the world quickly evolves into a much more digitally-driven landscape, the jobs that we do are changing. There is less need for certain occupations whose work can be done with a computer, some Wi-Fi and even chatbots these days. There is, however, growing need for other jobs, and STEM jobs are in particularly high command.
STEM jobs are on the rise across the globe including Australia. According to the US Department of Commerce, STEM jobs have more than tripled in number over the last ten years. And while most careers are set to grow by 9.8% – STEM based jobs are set to expand by a whopping 17% into the future.
So it is important that our kids get the fundamental grasp of STEM skill development from as early on in their lives as possible. It can be difficult to know exactly how to teach your child STEM skills, so here is a brief overview.
What is STEM?
According to LiveScience, STEM “...is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications.”
So in early childhood development teaching your child STEM skills is all about getting to grips with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in order to give them a solid handle on the subjects before they reach school.
Why do we need to teach STEM to young children?
There has been a fundamental shift in education facilities to provide STEM learning from an early age to ensure that children will be able to develop to their full potential in these subjects. By making it more available all over the nation, educators are also helping to eliminate the gender and ethnic gaps that are generally found in these industries.
In December 2015, the Australian Federal Government announced a National Innovation and Science Agenda. The mantra was to "inspire all Australians – from pre-schoolers to the broader community – to engage with STEM".
The program was given almost $65 million for the professional development of teachers, and to pay for specialised STEM programs in classrooms. There was $5 million in the 2014-15 Budget for similar programs, called "Primary Connections" and "Science by Doing". State governments have also committed significant money to the STEM program.
By teaching children STEM, we are equipping them with the necessary skills to join in making the world a better and more exciting place. Science is all around us and in everything that we do. Engineering is becoming more prominent as we look for green energy solutions and buildings, technology is simply growing bigger in our everyday lives and mathematics is used numerous times a day.
How to teach STEM to children
Teaching STEM to young kids doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think it is! Simply teaching children about the world around them and getting them actively involved is teaching them essential science and maths skills will help prepare them for a the future. Using educational toys that encourage engineering, maths or technology is a great way to encourage children to take an interest in these subjects.
Top Toy Picks:
Miniland Activity Timer
This clock helps to illustrate the evolution of time! The clock has a transparent face with easy-to-read numbers and coloured hands activated by a wheel at the top of the clock. The set comes with 12 colour activity cards which relate to daily activities to help the child learn. For ages 3-6.
Miniland Maths Colour Rings
Designed to work on the differentiation between sizes, colors, and textures with different themes and rings. These activities are grouped in different levels of difficulty and challenge. For ages 2-5.
Miniland Maths Turtles
This game teaches children how to differentiate between colours, spatial orientation and notions of topology! The activities cards cover a series of exercises to help children identify the orientation and colour of the turtles by placing the plastic figures in the correct position. For ages 2-5.