Early exposure to science is critical because science knowledge is cumulative. Learning science requires a solid foundation of knowledge that can be built upon through further study and exploration. Children should be introduced to science at home as early as possible. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your child learns all the science they need to know at school. The truth is science education in school is limited and the subject is not usually a high priority for educators. As parents, it is important that we share our knowledge with our children. Every day activities such as growing plants, cooking and caring for animals involve science. Take a look around and you will see that science is everywhere. Parents can choose to engage in scientific activities with their children when they are not in school to build scientific comprehension, encourage scientific exploration and foster a love for science and the pursuit of knowledge.
There are aspects of science that are intellectually demanding, but often simple experiences produce insightful learning. To engage your children in science you need to introduce them to stimulating environments that provide opportunities for observing and discussing science. Zoos, nature centers, oceans, parks, yards and even kitchens are perfect educational environments. Children naturally learn through playful exploration. Educational DVDs, and toys provoke thought and develop skills. When children ask questions to satisfy their natural curiosity, it is an open opportunity to be seized by the parent.
For instance, if a child is fascinated by a light switch and wants to know how it turns the light on and off, inquire into the subject with your child. Find out why and how the switch works. Why does yeast make bread rise? How does a spider spin a web? Why do leaves fall? Why do the birds disappear in the winter?
Identify your child’s interests and encourage them. If a child develops an interest in rocks, study rocks, gems, mining and fossils and build on that curiosity moving on to fossil fuels, heat generation and environmental effects. You will find that one inquiry leads to another.
Fuel their natural curiosity. These activities should be challenging without being frustrating. Don’t force them to do things they are not interested in; rather, engage them in motivating activities that build desire for further exploration. Share your own science related interests and you will be amazed by the impact of genuine enthusiasm. Remember that discussion is a key component to developing scientific knowledge and uncovering additional areas of interest. Encourage your child to talk about their experiences, observations and interests. This discussion will help children to construct thoughts, to form concepts and to examine different relationships that are intermingled in their ideas.
Some simple activities that foster knowledge of and interest in science include: “Finding out how and why things work”, “Sharing ideas and knowledge”, “Making observations and writing or drawing those observations down”, “Making predictions and seeking answers”, “Starting collections -such as rocks or bugs- and observing similarities and differences”, “Figuring out what causes things to change”, “Having science parties with family and friends”, “Enrolling your child in classes or extra-curricular activities involving science”.
Your home, your environment and your surroundings are filled with opportunities to share science with your children. Through engaging their interests and encouraging their search for knowledge, you can ensure success in science!