As parents, we often feel the pressure to make sure our child excels at math and reading. We start encouraging these skills early in our child’s life. The ABCs and 123s are some of the first things we teach our children. But what about science? Isn’t science just as important?
The answer is…YES! Science is important too! Last year, President Obama made the following comment:
“It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.”
Whether or not you are a fan of the guy, he does bring up an interesting point. However, being aware of the importance of science in only half the battle – teaching it is where the tricky part comes in. Science can be much more challenging to incorporate into our young children’s learning strategies. After all, there aren’t many catchy jingles riddled with scientific terminology! Luckily for you, we’ve taken the time to compile a list of eight tips that will help your child develop a love of science.
1. Make Time for “Science Time”
Your children probably already set aside time to do the things that they love – even if they don’t plan for it. They might not plan to play with the neighbor kid from down the street, but they definitely make time for it each day! When we love something, we find a way to make it happen.
Try to work in thirty minutes a few times a week for fun and easy science experiments. With your help, your children can create experiments using regular household objects. For example, you might have them close their eyes and touch different items to experiment with textures. Or fill an old film canister with water, drop in an Alka-Seltzer, snap on the lid and watch what happens. A simple internet search will yield millions of science experiment possibilities.
2. Go Outside
Nature is filled with fascinating scientific ideas and experiments. Take your kids outdoors and find them! If you head to the park, consider teaching your youngsters about force (when using the swings) or gravity (by throwing a ball up in the air). Take them outside after a rainy day, and you can teach them about rain’s effects on plants, animals, and objects.
3. Choose a Science Word of the Day
Put a science word up on the refrigerator or in another place where everyone will see it. Encourage your children to research the idea, write down what they know about it, or guess its definition. You can discuss the idea while sitting around the dinner table or before bedtime.
4. Answer Their Questions
Children crave knowledge. They are always asking “why” or wanting to know how things work. Instead of shushing them like busy parents do from time to time, answer their questions. If you don’t know the answer, tell them so. You can look it up together during your science time.
5. Ask Them Questions
Get their brains moving! Turn otherwise un-stimulating moments into learning time. For example, if you are out walking after a storm and your children spot a rainbow, ask them if they know what makes a rainbow appear in the sky. As you eat dinner, ask if your kids if they know where their hamburger came from or how carrots grow. During the drive to school, ask your child if he or she knows how a motor operates.
6. Keep up with the News
Scientists are creating new things and releasing new studies all the time. Keep an eye out for these studies in the newspaper or on television. Then, make time to discuss them with your children. The Huffington Post website has a technology tab with posts of all their articles about recent scientific innovations. They also post plenty of videos; your kids might relate these videos to watching television instead of studying.
7. Add in Fun
This probably sounds obvious, but science can be a boring subject for some. Look for science games or other ways you can apply scientific principles to everyday life.
8. Let Them Choose
Kids love knowing they have options. Plus, knowing you trust them enough to make a good choice can be a real self-confidence booster. When you are planning your family’s science time, ask your kids what they would like to learn that day. This will help them to enjoy what they are learning in a way that a forced activity just can’t.
Science doesn’t have to be boring or hard. It can even be…dare I say…fun! However, it’s up to you to make it that way. Our children are the future scientists and innovators of the world; we need to make sure we do all we can to help them along the way.
Hugo Velasco runs a blog about hair transplants in Tampa, Florida. He has a deep appreciation of scientific inquiry; after all, he wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for an enterprising scientist! Hugo shares his love of science with his children and engages them in science-related activities whenever possible.