The home is a child’s very first classroom, and parents are their first teachers. As young children are naturally inquisitive, full of different questions about the world and things that happen around them, parents should take advantage of this innate curiosity and the children’s drive to investigate how things around them work to channel their enthusiasm toward scientific discovery.
In this article, we will explore some of the most important reasons why science education is extremely important in early childhood and how you can support this in the coziness of your own home in Singapore.
The Importance of Early Years Science Education
Perhaps the single most important reason for this is because it can foster a lifelong love of science. There’s no doubt that children are “programmed” to experiment and explore. It’s the same case even with babies.
As a matter of fact, child psychologists claim that most children by the age of 7 develop ether negative or positive attitude toward science education that remains entrenched in later development.
By tapping into their natural predispositions as early as possible – because this is an essential development phase – parents can establish and nurture a positive approach to science education. We invite you to keep reading to find out how to do that!
Tips on How to Support Science Learning
1. Always Value Your Child Questions
First things first – there are no silly questions! Mommy/Daddy, what’s going on – why is the moon following us? This is the way they let us know they are thinking about how the world around them works.
Remember, as a parent, you should respond in a way that encourages their scientific curiosity and thinking. However, most, if not all, adults tend to explain concepts to children even when they are not completely sure of the answers themselves.
You might find it handy to subscribe to a magazine or find a science camp in Singapore if you lack scientific knowledge. You can respond to some of their questions (e.g., Where do clouds come from? Why do birds sing? How does it rain and why so?) by asking them what they think about it, encouraging their own way of thinking.
What’s even more important is not to be afraid to say you don’t know the right answer. It is better to do some research together and find information, whether online or in a magazine than give a wrong answer.
Besides that, listen for the questions they do not put into words. Many children’s actions like pushing a line of toy vehicles, digging in the dirt, or filling and dumping water between containers of different sizes can give us a hint about what they are wondering at that moment. For example, does anything live in the dirt, how can I make all of these cars move together in one straight line, etc.
Once again, you don’t have to be their encyclopedia trying to answear all their questions right away!
2. Give Your Children Time and Space to Explore
It is not always going to be easy to explain something to a child, even if that thing looks so obvious and simple, so you have to be patient, trying to explain it from different angles to make it easier for them to catch it up.
Children learn science through the trial and error method. They need time to try things out, experiment and think on their own, which means you should wait before jumping in with a correct answer. Give them time and space to discover and explore on their own!
3. Encourage Them to Observe and Record
Observation is one of the most important scientific skills. It all starts with observation. All scientific breakthroughs are made because of it.
This means that you should encourage your children to observe what’s going around them and to write it down, take photographs, or draw it.
So, when you notice your kid is interested in something (e.g., the growth of plants, leave changing their color on the trees, or the moon), suggest them to record what they have seen.
Observing makes children want to get the answer and improve their logical thinking by suggesting there is a scientific explanation behind the concept, which can flare up the thirst for knowledge even more.
This way, they can keep track of what they discovered, saw, questioned, and heard.
4. Help Them to Set Small Goals
One of the science characteristics is its cumulative nature, which means as more discoveries are made, we progressively come to a complete understanding of the world around us. However, we also open new questions that bring more confusion in science.
This is why you should encourage your child to set small and achievable goals. They can’t understand why the moon is following us before prior knowledge about gravity, which requires knowledge about forces.
By setting small goals, you give them not only clear direction for what should be done, but you can also enhance their confidence when they achieve these goals.
With that being said, don’t forget to recognize and celebrate their achievements, no matter how small they may be. This is important to keep them motivated to challenge themselves to do better and learn more.
Finishing a difficult project deserves nothing short of a special treat!
5. Provide Them With Opportunities to Unleash Their Inner Scientist
Adults who have children or work with them know they are compelled to investigate almost everything in the world surrounding them using all their senses.
The thing is that although we already know and expect children to be curious, we often overlook the importance of the role that curiosity plays in learning.
Curiosity is the main actuator that motivates children to try new things and learn and is an essential scientific attitude, which means the most important thing you can do as an adult to promote kid’s science learning is to nurture their investigation endeavors and curiosity.
6. Intrigue Them With Specialized Equipment
Although in the beginning, you don’t need any special equipment because everyday materials like water and blocks offer plenty of potentials, in later stages, some sort of specialized equipment like test tubes, goggles, kits, and tools (e.g. a small handheld magnifying glass) is a good idea.
They offer children more ways to perform experimental testing and find on their own how things work out.
7. Explore and Find the Right Answers by Making Mistakes Together
One of the most famous methodologists and sociologists – Carl Popper – said that science is all about conjectures and refutations. Not to mention that there are hundreds of examples in our history where scientific breakthroughs were made suddenly – by mistakes.
As you might know, we usually learn from our mistakes. It is the same case with our children. Failing to do a thing that we want can make us want it to solve it even more, which further leads to more creativity, thinking out of the box until we figure it out.
This not only helps children to shake up the problem by looking at it from different angles but also helps them develop logical thinking.
8. Support Their Exploration
Intentional parent interactions with their children can extend their science learning. Finding the right moment to do that is important. Maybe you can do it when they are done exploring and experimenting on their own by offering suggestions to extend their exploration.
You can do that by suggesting things like, “What would happen if we do this or that?”
9. Get the Most Out of Your Electronic Devices
Smartphones and the internet are not only meant to be used for games. They are an inexhaustible source of knowledge these days.
You can always use an app or a website to learn more about some specific “creature” or phenomenon, take a record of frog sounds, take pictures of strange species, and so on and so forth.
10. Make Every Day a Learning Day
Turning children every day into a learning day may sound like way too much for them – but it is not – as long as you do it in the right way.
Whenever possible, encourage them to explore the world and phenomena around them (especially if you can do it through game based learning). Try to ask them interesting questions that will make them curious about the topic, make connections between everyday happenings, and help them think critically of what they experience and see.
Turning every day into a learning day should help them develop a regular habit of learning which certainly, in return, pays of later!
11. Explorations Are Messy
Whether it is an indoor experiment with water or outdoor exploration with mud, children are likely to get messy when they explore those materials that can leave stubborn stains.
So, if you are thinking about sending your child to a science camp in Singapore or somewhere in the wilderness, dress them in old clothing and tell them it is okay if they get dirty!