Importance of science in Early Childhood Education
Science education through engaging hands-on activities gives children opportunities to learn problem-solving skills, perseverance, analytical skills and overall cognitive development. Children are inclined to explore and continue experimentation from the very beginning. There is overwhelming data and research that suggests that by the age of 7, a child will either develop curiosity and interest in the subject of science or they will have a negative attitude towards science. This is all the more reason to get children exposed to science education from the start so that their love and affinity for the subject stays with them as they get older.
Kids ages 4-8 are at a crucial time in their understanding of science, math, engineering, technology and art (STEAM). How vast is our solar system, what causes the moon to look different every night, How do bees affect our ecosystem? How does a rocket launcher work? These are just a few topics which can be introduced to them at this age.
Encouraging their natural curiosity and tapping into their natural predisposition of exploration and learning through play, early childhood educators and parents can teach kids how things work around them, how to think and how to learn. Introduce scientific terms that are age appropriate and encourage children to expand their creativity and literacy skills to build on their knowledge of science activities.
It is about the process: The process is more important than the results. Sometimes parents get worried about the progress of their child and start comparing their milestones with their peers, siblings or distant-family members however, the most important thing to remember when introducing science activities at an early age is that there is no ‘right’ way to learn or teach. Milestones are just guidelines and must not be taken as a set standard that children need to meet. This does not indicate academic success in the future. The main goal is to foster their natural curiosity and promote investigative skills along with the habit of just thinking. It is exceptionally valuable for children to gain scientific knowledge through creative play.
Be Adventurous to discovery: In today’s highly digitalized world, parents and educators might find it difficult to get the children off the screen. Planning educational science-specific activities for children is one way to introduce science into their life. There are several other ways in which daily scientific discovery opportunities can exist. If a child shows interest in bees for example, buy them a book which talks about the function and importance of bees in our ecosystem, take them on a tour with a beekeeper, make a delicious delicacy out of honey, make and decorate beeswax candles, invite bees to your outdoor garden for pollination. The list is endless. Encourage them to ask questions, and ask them the right questions. Despite their tender age, you might be surprised how much children can grasp and learn at a quick silver pace up until the age of 7.
Learning through play: Children love getting physical and their favourite pastime when they are toddlers is exploration through touch. The messier the activity, the better for the child. Whether they are dripping their hands in pots of paint or scribbling on a piece of paper with a sharpie, they are constantly absorbing and learning. What does the texture of paint feel like? Which colour looks better to draw beautiful flowers, how long should I cut the string? Keeping science activities short and varied, will keep children entertained and interested. Giving children time to explore is important. Trial and error is the name of the game. They love to try things, and making mistakes during their experimentation is almost vital. If an experiment goes wrong, it can open up to endless opportunities and wonderful Eureka moments.
Scientific record-keeping: Is an important skill that children can easily be taught and it must be encouraged. When they show an interest in a specific bird or tree, ask them to draw their observations or take photos, perhaps they would like to doodle or write down the colour of the changing trees?. If they love space, encourage them to star-gaze and perhaps they can draw the shape of the moon over a period of a week so they can track the different phases of the moon . Conversations like why the moon looks different every night? What does a galaxy look like? Why do stars appear to be twinkling; are great ways to instil the love of science in young minds.
It might seem daunting for parents to come up with science activity ideas frequently, not to mention the cost associated with providing plenty of resources. This is not the case. Going for long walks as a family, camping outdoors, hiking, watching the sunset or sunrise, bird-watching, taking a tour of your local museum, visiting a neighbourhood library; these activities not only expand a child’s sense of adventure and wonder but also gets children thinking while they are absorbing all the information around them.
We must take advantage of their innate curiosity at an early age and encourage their enthusiasm for science and innovation. Why is the moon round? Why is the sun so bright? Why are the sun and moon following me? You do not have to know all the answers to your child’s constant chatter and questions. Parents can find the answers to these questions together. It is all part of their scientific discovery and science education.
Our science kits for kids allow them to build a strong basic foundation. Banyan Tree Kidz allows children in this age group to begin a hands-on discovery of science, chemistry, biology and more, with fun and immersive DIY projects. Your monthly box includes all the materials and inspiration for creating science and art projects such as creating northern lights in a jar, exploring the solar system, studying dinosaur fossils and more.