How do preschools teach science in the early childhood classroom? If your child is ready for pre-K, take a look at the what’s, why’s, and how’s of science in the preschool setting.
What Is Preschool Science?
Science in the pre-k classroom doesn’t necessarily look like what you might expect. Unlike the science you remember from high school, the early childhood version won’t include caustic chemical experiments, complex calculations, or lengthy lectures. Instead, early childhood science includes:
- Basics. Like early literacy and math content, early science activities, explorations, and lessons include basic concepts — such as vocabulary words or procedural steps.
- Exploration, discovery, and experimentation. Science in the early childhood classroom won’t focus on teacher-led lectures or assignments. The activities young children participate in include plenty of child-centered exploration.
- Developmentally and age–appropriate content. Science content in the pre-K classroom meets the young child where they are developmentally. This may mean the teacher needs to re-shape science content or choose what the students will or won’t learn right now.
Parents should understand what science involves in the early childhood classroom. They also need to know why it’s an important part of their preschoolers’ day.
Why Do Preschoolers Learn Science Concepts?
Early literacy and math aren’t the only key educational areas in the preschool classroom. Along with these basics, children also need to build a fundamental framework in the sciences during their early years. In the preschool classroom, science can:
- Help young children build critical-thinking skills. The opportunity to explore and solve problems through the scientific process builds crucial critical thinking skills the young child will use now and for years to come.
- Help young children learn about the world around them. Science invites exploration. Preschoolers will get to explore their immediate natural environment through hands-on activities and experiments.
- Help young children develop a conceptual foundation. As your child moves into kindergarten, elementary school, and beyond they’ll dig deeper into the world of science. The content and concepts they learn in the preschool years provide a framework for later learning.
Along with these benefits, science in the preschool classroom can help young children explore their interests and develop a love of learning.
How Do Preschoolers Learn Science?
There’s no doubt science is an important part of the early childhood classroom curriculum. But how do educators help their young students to learn these key concepts? While lectures, chemical-filled experiments, and other complex lessons aren’t part of the preschooler’s day, age-and-developmentally appropriate activities can help pre-K students learn about basic concepts.
Specific science activities vary by pre-K classroom. In general, early childhood educators may help their students to learn about science with:
- Open-ended questions. These questions don’t have a yes or no answer. Instead, open-ended questions require the young student to think deeply about the question and create a full answer. This type of questioning strategy helps to build inquiry and critical-thinking skills.
- A variety of learning opportunities. According to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) position statement on early childhood science education, preschoolers need a variety of opportunities to explore the sciences.
- Hands-on activities. Preschool science activities help children to learn by doing. Hands-on exploration allows preschoolers to touch, feel, manipulate, and explore materials in a concrete way.
- Extended activities. The ability to learn over time can help young students to understand concepts on a deeper level. The pre-K teacher may extend some activities or science explorations over days, weeks, or the entire school year.
Early childhood science activities may also include extensions into other curricular areas. You may have heard of STEAM — which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. STEAM explorations bridge the sciences and other types of content as a way to learn, grow, and develop new abilities.
Is your child ready to start preschool? Contact Advantage Learning Center for more information.