Automation is the future, and today’s children will be living in a world aided by robot arms and dictated by digital connections. Science, mathematics, and engineering will lead society further into the 21st century, and people will need young leaders who see things and solve problems in a logical, analytical way.
As such, children need an appreciation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), not to have well-paying jobs, but to adapt to an increasingly automated and digital world. If they work well with collaborative robots or create digital solutions for problems that bog down their daily life, they will lead a productive adult life.
Here are a few tips to help you raise a science-minded child.
Explore Outside the Classroom
Not everyone develops a love for science in school; if you ask those in a scientific profession, many would probably say that they discovered their passion outside the classroom.
So, look for extracurricular activities that can supplement the children’s science and math classes. Sign them up for afterschool activities that explore more advanced subjects like robotics or astronomy. There are also coding classes that introduce little ones to the world of programming.
If you’re not interested in enrolling them in extracurricular studies, you can hold activities yourself. You’ll find countless science experiments that are geared for kids online, using only things that can be found at home. Buy toys that incorporate essential engineering elements, such as levers and pulleys. Supplement schoolwork by filling your bookshelves with kid-friendly science and math references and activity books.
Support Digital Literacy
A complete ban on all things digital is detrimental to children. Kids today will live in an age of technology, so they must be well-acquainted with it and know how to use it properly.
This is called digital literacy, or the ability to effectively find, evaluate, and use information from the internet, video games, smartphones, and other similar sources. Without digital literacy, children might fall victim to or be a part of cyberbullying, digital cheating, and security breaches. The critical skills that every child should possess are:
- Effective Search – Digitally literate children know how to find the information they need and evaluate their sources. They know how to assess the validity of the media they consume.
- Respect for Intellectual Property – Corollary to effective search is respect for intellectual property. In the digital space, anything can be copied, pasted, and claimed. Digital literacy teaches children that if it’s not their own work, they should cite the source and give credit where credit is due.
- Privacy and Protection – Private information is critical, which is why children should know what information they shouldn’t give away. Digital literacy also teaches the basics of online safety, such as privacy settings and creating strong passwords.
- Digital Footprints – Children must understand that every comment, post, and profile leaves behind a digital footprint that’s not easy to erase. Digital literacy helps them know that their activities can be tracked and viewed, so they have to use the internet with the utmost care.
- Social Media Etiquette – Like in real life, online users should be respectful and courteous to other users. Digital literacy teaches children that, even though they’re online, they should still watch their words and respect other people’s points of view.
Show the Science of Every Day
Lastly, children will appreciate STEM more if they understand how it fits into their everyday life. Here are a few things you can do with your child to stir interest in science and mathematics.
- Bake Pastries – Unlike cooking, baking is an exact science. You can’t simply add a few more teaspoons of sugar to cookie dough to make it sweeter because it will alter how the cookie will look, too. Through baking at home, your child will understand the importance of counting and taking the right measurements.
- Pretend Play with Monetary Value – Pretending that you’re in a grocery paying for your items is a great way to practice addition and subtraction. You can assign specific prices for different things and then let the kids act as the vendor or restaurant staff.
- Build Blocks – Building blocks help build spatial intelligence and exercise their creative juices.
- Play Logic Games – Use puzzles, number games, and brain teasers to pass the time. It helps develop their problem-solving skills.
By inspiring a love for STEM, you help your child appreciate and understand innovations around them. You also sharpen their creativity, arithmetic, and logical abilities. When they grow up, they will contribute greatly to solving the problems of the future.