The role of parents in raising the next generation of STEAM leaders
STEAM (a teaching strategy that combines five disciplines: science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) offers an ideal base for children, especially those from 6-16, to expand knowledge and develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
STEAM integration in learning includes activities in the curriculum that inspire young people to learn, think of answers to important questions, and typically get hands-on by conducting experiments to validate theories. The range of tools that can be offered to kids in a STEAM-inspired environment can vary from simple tools like scissors, crayons, markers, rulers, and recycled maker boxes all the way to top-tier technology that can help kids create and execute games, apps, and more.
When kids play, STEAM learning is fostered in the best way possible. And kids play best when they are around their friends and family. By putting into practice some STEAM elements, and advocating for your child, parents and caregivers can support children’s growth.
Some ways to support STEAM learning as parents
- Advocate with the leadership at your kid’s school to incorporate STEAM programming as part of their regular curriculum. Offer to volunteer if the school is within the public system. Bringing in organized afterschool STEAM sessions is a good way to start.
- Consider gifting your children STEAM presents for their birthdays and holidays. DIY kits from brands have become plentiful and accessible at all budgets. Consider hosting playdates to bring your kids friends over to play and collaborate in the discovery process, using STEAM toys and kits.
- Look for an afterschool or holiday camp that runs STEAM programming; and book your kids in. If that isn’t affordable for your budget, look at local community centers and businesses who might offer short term programming and free sessions.
Additional ways in which parents can offer kids access to STEAM programming
Look for online resources to help you learn about STEAM first: A wonderful thing you can do as a parent is to try and learn as much about STEAM as possible personally. There are blogs, free courses, articles, case studies and more available online (including this blog! If you’re new to our content, please search the blog section for a lot more material on STEAM). Some online resources will offer ideas for activities, and printable worksheets.
Learn often with your children: Parents are role models for our children by the examples we set and our attitudes and habits both within and outside the home. Reading and learning with your child is an excellent lifelong habit to foster. Incorporate STEAM learning goals into your time by demonstrating your own personal strengths and accomplishments to inspire them. Demonstrate how you might start looking for scientific explanations, games, and resources that will form the solutions to the projects at hand.
Look for maker’s communities or hackathons: Encourage children to participate in science fairs, student hackathon competitions, and maker challenges available to build learning, as well as their personal communities. Begin looking in neighborhood science centers and ask your peers for recommendations in your neighbourhood.
STEAM-based education can encourage children to think critically, thoroughly, and creatively. Parents and caregivers can help kids develop their conceptual knowledge and adapt to real-world behaviors using STEAM ideas and practices. Look into what you can facilitate for your child.
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