Our education specialist aims to answer some of the toughest questions we get asked by parents. One of the most common questions we hear – How do I talk to my children about STEM and their future? Talking to your children may feel intimidating for a number of reasons. Some of us don’t want to scare them about the future and some parents may not want to stress their children about a subject they may be struggling in. The fact is, these conversations are necessary to start exposing our children to the importance of STEM skills as well as ignite their interest in STEM fields. Here is some advice from our Education Specialist:
- Tell your child what STEM means – First things first, tell your child what STEM is. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just involve explaining that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Of course, this is important but there are other points that you should include to help your child understand why it matters. Use these points as a mental checklist:
- STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
- Provide examples of STEM in the real-world. For example, “Did you know that your favorite gadgets like cell phones, tablets, and video games were created by computer scientists and engineers? We need more people like you to invent things to help people in the future. Building your STEM skills can help solve problems for people in the future.”
- Note: If your child is shying away from STEM because they are struggling with a particular subject, be encouraging and remind them that they don’t need to master everything. It’s about engaging them with their interests and what makes them feel confident. Try asking your child what problems they might want to solve in the future and what topics interest them.
- Refer to these articles from our blog: What is STEM Education, Anyways? and Why STEM Education is Important
- Help your child understand STEM in the real-world – STEM careers are much more than conducting experiments and building bridges. STEM appears in almost any career they will come across in their lifetime. Fashion involves material science, engineering, geometry, math and even technology. Sales involves data literacy, math, psychology, and systems science. I’m sure if you dig deep into any career with your child, something STEM will come up through a brainstorm – give it a try!
- Engage your child with inquiry and model curiosity – Curiosity and inquiry are one of the most important concepts to engage your child in. Not just for a STEM-future, but to ensure you raise an independent thinker who questions concepts and aims to understand the world around them. There are 2 simple strategies that I love when it comes to sparking curiosity and inquiry:
- Exploring wonder: Ask your child to finish this sentence – “I’ve always wondered…” and capture it on paper. Then, help your child explore answers to that question. You can use the internet, books, a short experiment, a quick brainstorm, or even use random materials to build a prototype. For more information on this, check out these two articles from The Guardian and Scholastic.
- Model curiosity: When you come across something that might interest your child, start asking questions together. For example, “Why do you think this happened? What might make it look like this? Why did this turn out differently than the other one?”
- Seek out STEM-related activities – There are so many options out in the world to get your child involved in STEM. There are after school programs, camps, and thousands of online resources. I love STEM Village because it helps you connect directly with your child’s experiences and places the best online games, interactives, labs, and learning media (like videos and audible articles) right in one place. Furthermore, it helps update you on what topics your child is interested in so you can further engage their curiosity.
- Engage with your child’s teacher – Your child’s teacher will be able to guide you towards topics that have engaged your child in the past and places to further excite their love of STEM. You can connect with your child’s teacher in so many ways – all you need to do is ask to get started!
If you want to get your children or students engaged with STEM Education in a fun and effective way, please visit STEM Village to learn more and start a free trial today.
Our children deserve the power of knowledge and the confidence to learn. Join the conversation with STEM Village on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to leave your own tip in the comments – we love to hear from you!
This article was written by Erin Carmody, an experienced educator, consultant, and Content Manager at STEM Village.