It’s full STEAM ahead for your child. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) is a buzzword in early education — and for a very good reason. If science and technology concepts seem more like college-level concepts than what early educators teach, take a look at the top preschool STEAM questions answered.
What Is STEAM?
Understanding what STEAM education means in the context of the preschool classroom can help you, as the parent, to better understand these seemingly sophisticated areas. Unlike high school or college classrooms, science, technology, engineering, art, and math in the early education environment doesn’t come with memorization requirements, lengthy lectures, or complicated textbooks.
Preschool STEAM is:
- Exploratory. Whether the child learns about the effects of gravity, paints a masterpiece, or adds two numbers, they’re exploring. Early childhood educators use a discovery-based approach when teaching these concepts, inviting the students to explore and experiment.
- Hands-on. Forget about flash cards and rote memorization. Hands-on experiments and discovery activities are at the heart of STEAM education. This may include using science equipment, tools, art materials, or a computer.
- Child-centered. The teacher acts as a guide (and safety supervisor) during these types of activities and lessons, encouraging the child to play a central role in the learning process.
- Open-ended. Many STEAM concepts and questions don’t have one standard answer. This often means that, instead of yes/no questions, the teacher provides open-ended inquiries.
Along with general ways of learning, STEAM education also includes many of the specific science, technology, engineering, art, and math concepts you’d expect to see. Depending on the classroom and the curriculum, this could include anything from biology to using the internet in a child-safe and friendly way.
Why Teach STEAM?
A STEAM-inclusive classroom is a hands-on environment that promotes active learning. Adding STEAM concepts to the preschool curriculum can:
- Increase creativity. The thought processes and problem-solving skills that young children use when investigating science, technology, and other STEAM concepts encourage creativity.
- Build on curiosity. Young children are naturally curious about the world around them. STEAM explorations play to this sense, allowing the child to make their own discoveries.
- Prepare for later schooling. Your child will build on early STEAM concepts as they move into kindergarten, elementary school, and beyond.
- Prepare for the future. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs existed. As this number grows, so does the need for qualified employees. An early start sets your child on a life-long achievement (and possibly career) path.
Not only can STEAM activities benefit the young child, but these lessons are also engaging. The more interesting and exciting the Pre-K classroom is, the more likely children will choose to actively involve themselves in it. Active involvement can increase learning outcomes and overall development.
How Can Parents Add to STEAM Learning?
Your child’s education doesn’t stop at the classroom doors. If you want ways to reinforce STEAM concepts at home:
- Talk to the teacher. What STEAM concepts is your child currently exploring in the classroom? Ask the teacher for ideas and ways to connect at-school with at-home learning.
- Provide plenty of materials. Give your child something to explore with. You don’t need to buy fancy or expensive equipment. Instead, try natural materials and a magnifying glass, crayons and paper, and other similar items.
- Visit the classroom. Ask to help with classroom STEAM lessons (if the teacher and school permits). If you can’t visit during the school day, ask the teacher for a quick tour of STEAM areas when you pick up your child.
Another easy way to open up STEAM learning is to ask your child. Talk to your preschooler after school, encouraging them to discuss the activities, explorations, and experiments they participated in during their day. Does your child need a new early educational experience?
Contact Advantage Learning Center for more information.