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From listening to podcasts to going on short field trips, you don't have to go far or do much to teach your kids about STEM.
According to the 2018 Revisiting Women in STEM Survey, educated women are now less likely to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. But since STEM will be one of the most important industries for Millennials and Gen Z, it's important that we make sure our kids are getting their daily dose of STEM learning. But how can we possibly fit that into our busy routines, when it's already difficult to merely get our kids out the door on time? Below are some easy ways to make sure your children are being exposed to STEM learning every day.
1. Listen to STEM podcasts geared toward children in the car.
Some of my recommendations include “Science Solved It,” “Tumble,” “Brains On” and “Meanwhile in the Future.” Listening to these programs is an easy way to know that your family is absorbing something valuable, with minimal effort. I recommend asking your kids to hear questions throughout the ride so they remain engaged with the podcast subject.
2. Read to your kids during bedtime.
Much like podcasts, there are some fantastic books that have some STEM content created just for kids. It’s a fun way to sneak in an extra dose at the end of the day (kiddos won’t even realize!). My favorites include The Most Magnificent Thing and Solar Powered Showdown.
3. Cook with them.
We often forget that cooking involves a lot of great basic math and science—so get your kids in the kitchen with you! Have them help with fractions in a recipe (ask them how to double the servings and have them solve it) or talk about what happens to the food when you put it in the oven or what is going on when you boil water.
4. Encourage playtime with constructive toys.
Buy them a new set of Legos, Kinetics or even a marble tower; playing with these will promote independent learning and help them internalize some simple engineering lessons. Ask children to build you the tallest building they can to help them develop “engineering thinking.”
5. Go outside.
Take a walk with your kids. If you go during the evening, talk about the sun setting and why that occurs. If you play in the yard, point out the flowers and the bugs, and how they all work together in the ecosystem. Learning more about the world around them equips them with facts and powerful knowledge for their future.
6. Take a field trip.
On the weekend, visit a local science or children’s museum. It's an interactive way to stimulate learning in an environment that is specifically designed to entice and educate young minds. Many museums have exhibits for all ages and ones that rotate throughout the year, so there will always be something new for your child to explore.
7. Let them practice coding.
It's a major skill that kids can now begin developing from a very young age—and something they can practice at home on your computer. Have your kids dedicate half an hour to coding exercises every day, and they will be far ahead by the time computer class comes around. To show them you are interested in the subject too, sit with them while they do it and pick up the skills together. A few great tools are Tynker and Scratch.
8. Expose them to grown-up vocabulary starting at a young age.
This is one of the biggest tricks to encouraging STEM learning. When your little one is in the bathtub, talk about “buoyancy” of the toys in the water. If you’re playing with blocks, for example, use “cube” instead of “square.” These words will begin to resonate early on, and will make their progress in STEM subjects that much easier as they get older.
9. Enroll them in a STEM Summer Camp.
There are some really amazing learn-to-code summer camps for teens like ID Tech and Digital Media Academy. Kids as young as 6- to 8-years-old can also get exposure in these types of summer camps—they were a game changer for my kids, who enjoyed Celsius and Beyond, Camp Edmo and Galileo.
Written by Sara Schaer for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.