In a world where screens have become so prevalent, many parents have started trying to balance “screen time” with STEM time. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s never too early to start providing STEM opportunities for your little ones.
The best way to expose children to science is to get outside. Even before they can walk, a little one in a stroller can see and experience science in nature. Even when they are young, point out things you see and hear as you walk outside with your little ones. “Look at those purple flowers.” “Do you hear those birds chirping?” As babies turn into toddlers who turn into preschoolers, they will continue to learn about science as they experience and problem solve in nature. It’s so important to get children outside.
Once children are old enough, there are some great educational apps for smart phones and tablets that can help with early phonemic awareness. Some of our favorites are Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, PBS Kids, AlphaTots, and TeachMe: Toddler. Screen time should be limited, but it can be beneficial when used in moderation.
Children can begin to learn about engineering at a young age. As little ones learn to problem solve and build, they become tiny engineers! Some of our favorite first engineering toys are Fat Brain toys. There are so many ways kids can build, put things together, take things apart, and learn simply by playing! There are toys for all ages, the hardest part will be choosing which ones to get!
Legos, Magformers, and various blocks are toys that gets kids building while they play! Little minds grow as they build and explore all the things they can create. Provide opportunities for both boys AND girls to build!
It’s also never too early to start counting with your children. While carrying my kids when they were little, I would count the stairs out loud when we would go up or down. When they play with dinosaurs, we would sort them by colors and count how many we had of each. I would point out each shape that we saw. Even when it doesn’t seem your child is old enough to understand, it’s so important to get in the habit of talking to your little ones. And remember, they pick up way more than we realize!
Wendy is a mother of four who lives in central Illinois.