How Can You Help Your Kids Learn & Love Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math?
Can Sid the Science Kid actually make learning fun? I'm not going to lie to you. I hated math. I was never good at it in school. I signed up for an economics class my first semester of college and my TA, after trying to help me grasp a concept for over an hour, looked at me at asked in a really aggravated tone, "Why don't you get this?" I was at a loss. Why didn't I get it?
And science? Almost worse. My biggest claim to fame was when I lit my lawn on fire and subsequently burned the whole thing! It was so pretty! Isn't science fun?
So, when I had two boys, I feared the day they'd come home and ask for help with their math or science homework or any homework that included numbers. Why? Because after learning that I sucked at math in college, I promptly petitioned my way out of it. Apparently, I wasn't bad at writing and my petition was approved! But what that reinforced was my lack of confidence in all things mathematical—things I really do find fascinating and want to understand.
That is why last night's #gno Twitter party was illuminating for me. I felt surrounded by brilliance as an entire community of parents and teachers and organizations came together to share tips, links, and awesome ideas for how to help your kids learn and love STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Here are a few things I learned—quoted directly from the Twitter party—that I hope will help you as you teach your kids to learn and love all things STEM. If you choose to read one section, make sure to check out the resources at the bottom. This is chock full of links to help you help your kids!
Tips for Parents
- "Parents shouldn't be afraid to ask questions. Keep the lines of communication open." @PBSParents
- "Instead of assuming a child is "too young to understand", try to find a more relatable way to explain it." @bkjones
- "Modeling is important; esp. for older kids. If ur online all the time, they'll assume it's OK for them, too." @PBSParents
- "The biggest thing to help your child with is for them to LEARN HOW TO FIGURE THINGS OUT. Applies to everything." @RobynOHSH
- "If you don't limit a child's imagination, there are no limits - they can take you to the moon. Literally!" @geekmommy
- "Your backyard is a classroom waiting to be used." @connectingwomen
- "Get out & find beauty of physics everywhere, computers are great, but hands on lessons hard to forget." @coolchillmom
- "Share [with kids] stories of successes, and also those with failures but with a great learning lesson." @connectingwomen
- "It's not hard to get kids to think like scientists - just ask them "What do you think?" from the time they can speak!" @NoFlashcards
- "say, "I don't know", then follow up with "let's find out." @makeandtakes
Tips for Encouraging Girls to Love and Learn STEM Subjects
- "Encourage girls to get their hands dirty, to explore, to ask questions...to think like a scientist." @PBSParents
- "Give girls books about science, construction, transportation, dinosaurs; not just princesses & ballerinas." @amymcdurham
- "Many moms let dad do the fixing or hire handyman, do it yourself to show your daughter that she can do it." @thesmartmama
STEM-Related Activities to Do With Your Children
- "A museum membership is more than investment, great for days when kids say 'I'm bored.'" @geekmommy
- "Look for star gazing events in your area or do it in your own back yard." @PBSParents
- "With math, help kids count everything: flowers in a vase, coins in ur purse, people in a store." @PBSParents
- "Show kids how ice melts or water freezes. Let them see the mold on the cheese before throwing it away." @PBSParents
- "For little ones, cut out shapes in pancakes. Point out shapes around your house." @PBS Parents
- "Bath time: Let them see what sinks/floats. In the kitchen, let them see how an egg changes when it's cooking." @PBSParents
- "Find out what Geocaching is & make it a family outing." @GeekMommy
- "Tell a story, history is full of great inventors, scientist, and builders that can inspire just like a good educator can." @CoolChillMom
- "Play the ABC game w/ pre-k: go on walk and find natural things beginning w/ each letter-fun!" @sanborncamps
- "If you travel, get sciece museum or zoo membership with reciprocal benefits at other science museums." @moneywisemoms
- "A simple magnifying glass can lead to great scientific exploration of a backyard." @NoFlashcards
- "Unstructured time in nature is vital Let them climb trees make forts get an ouchie. It's learning!" @ohboymama
- "Start an outdoor playgroup and discover w/ parents and kids math and science out there." @activekidsclub
- "Start a Lego club, encourage trips to museums as field trips." @RobynOHSH
- "Check out local nature centers. They're free. Many libraries also have free science-related programs." @PBSParents
- "For early engineering, paper crafting is great!" @pattyonovak
- "I buy my kids kits like Shrinky Dinks and Magic Rocks and Sea Monkeys to introduce science concepts. They love it." @mammaloves
- "Puzzles, word searches, crosswords all great 4 teaching engineering - teaches strategy." @pattyonovak
- Encourage your kids to keep a science notebook. Check out this post from The Kitchen Pantry Scientist for ideas.
- Make your kids aware of and help them get involved in World Math Day.
- Check out this PBS site for tips on engaging kids in science.
- Here's some fun kids' sites: Curious George, Sid the Science Kid, and Dinosaur Train.
- Here's a link to STEM-related Activity Packs, which offer pre K-12 PBS resources and activity ideas.
- Click here to learn more about the Great American Campout Night?!
- Here are some great nature activities that are free and fun!
- Here's a list of science museums around the country.
- Another great PBS resource is ZOOM. Has over 100 easy activities to do with your kids.
- Here's an awesome post from Mommy Poppins on what to do on snow days.
- The Carrot Sticks website gives you a "Fun Way to Give Your Kids an Edge in Math."
- Lots of great engineering activities at this engineering reality program for middle school.
- For teaching girls programming concept, check out the Alice website.
- Heres the National Science Foundations Top 5 Myths of Girls & Science.
- Don't forget that the Arts and Music build the science mind!
Photo courtesy of Flickr.