Experts indicate that STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – courses are often viewed by students as the most difficult. What is surprising, however, is that many of them develop that opinion from their parents, even those who think they strongly encourage their child in everything they do. In some cases, parents may have done poorly in science or math and feel as if they cannot help the student in those subjects. However, even if you were not “good” at science, there are ways to help your children develop an interest in the subject.
Listen and Encourage
Parents have a bad habit of not listening to their child when they talk. When children talk, they often provide insight into how their brains are working and how they perceive the world around them. Too often, parents become exasperated with constant questions, when that is actually the time to help children develop a love of the unknown. Encourage children to ask questions by asking them questions as well. It can be as simple as asking children at dinner if they know where there peas or fish sticks came from. At the beach, ask children if they know why the waves move the way they do or what types of fish might be living just off shore. When they ask questions, even if you have had a busy day, answer them as best you can. If you don’t know the answer, sit down at the computer with them and look up the answer.
Make Time for It
Science is everywhere so it is not difficult to set aside time for it even in a busy week. Take a few minutes each week to conduct a fun experiment with your children. The internet has many sites devoted to simple experiments that can show children how science can be fun. Invest in a microscope from Microscope.com, so that children can investigate things that cannot be seen by the naked eye. It is also a great way to pass the time when you and the child are waiting, such as a doctor’s office. Have them close their eyes and touch things, like books or items from a pocket or purse. Whatever you do, make the time you spend on science fun.
A visit to the local playground is a way to promote science in the minds of children. A swing set can teach them about force while a teeter-totter can teach them about offsetting balances. Tossing a ball in the air can teach about gravity. Plants and animals provide excellent ways to teach about science as well. As seasons are changing, you can talk about why the leaves are sprouting or why they are changing color. Rainstorms may create rainbows where you can discuss how the rays of the sun help create the bright colors. Even at night, sitting outside and gazing at the stars provides a fun learning experience as you try to help children pick out planets and constellations.
Watch the News
New discoveries and inventions occur every day. These innovations are often discussed in newspapers and on the nightly news. Keep an eye out for science related articles that you can share with your children. In addition, many news websites have science and technology sections where you can read about the most recent science news. Try to relate the story to something that affects your children as it will give them a real-world application for whatever new is happening.
Let them Join Science Related Organizations
Groups like 4-H, Girl or Boy Scouts as well as the Boys and Girls Club often help students develop an interest in science. Girl and Boy Scouts have the ability to earn badges, many of which are science related and 4-H focuses on plant and animal sciences. The most important part is that these organizations teach science informally and using fun, interesting activities so students may be unaware that they are learning.
Even if you were not good at science when you were in school, you can encourage a love of science in your children just by following.