Young children are curious by nature. They ask questions about the world around them and feel a deep urge to investigate how things work. Parents should take advantage of that innate curiosity and channel their enthusiasm towards science, so that the little ones come into contact with the scientific world as soon as possible.
In fact, did you know that the interests that children develop at an early age will largely determine the interests that they will have later in life? A study carried out at the University of Ulster revealed that by the age of 5, most children have already formed a basic image about the different sciences. A little later, around the age of 7, they have developed a positive or negative attitude towards science in general that will remain ingrained for a long time.
Harnessing their natural predispositions early on, during the early stages of their development, can nurture a positive attitude toward science that will stay with them well into the future, encouraging them to explore and experiment with different areas of scientific knowledge while developing their interests and passions.
Why should children learn science from an early age?
1. Provides a broader understanding of the world
Science gives children a bigger picture of how things work. They give them information about the world around them, from the human body to the mechanics of a car to the solar system. This knowledge will become the basis for assimilating new concepts, finding the interrelationships between phenomena and developing a more complete perspective on their reality.
2. Encourages problem solving skills
Science problems are challenges that promote the development of problem-solving skills in children. Science stimulates the processes of analysis and synthesis, two basic operations of thought, in addition to promoting investigative skills. Children will learn to formulate questions and try to contrast hypotheses following a method, which will help them develop logical thinking. Science will also encourage them to think on their own and reach their own conclusions, promoting freer and more autonomous thinking.
3. Develop skills necessary for life
Science activities provide children with opportunities to develop and practice different skills and qualities that will be key for their future life. They teach them to stay focused on a task and encourage them to make informed decisions and draw their own conclusions based on their observations and experiments. Science can also stimulate children’s collaborative and teamwork skills as well as communication skills and expand their vocabulary.
4. Stimulates creativity
Science teaches basic concepts and laws, but it is not dogmatic. In fact, one of the great advantages of teaching the scientific method to children is precisely that it helps develop their creativity. With science, children learn to generate new ideas, establish connections between different concepts and look for original solutions, which can lead them to invent new technologies in the future.
5. Nurture respect for nature
A child who understands how the Earth is formed and the delicate balance that exists between living beings will be a child much more committed to caring for the planet who will want to make more rational use of natural resources when they are older. Understanding the impact of environmental changes and human activity on ecosystems develops environmental awareness from an early age and fosters love and respect for nature.
How to promote interest in science in children?
A survey conducted at Harvard University revealed that a fourth of the parents consider that the school does not pay enough attention to science in its educational programs. However, regardless of the subjects taught at school and their teaching hours, an interest in science can also be developed at home from an early age.
Science is everywhere and can be very simple and fun. A visit to the park or an afternoon on the playground provides plenty of opportunities for children to learn new things. Therefore, encourage your child to explore his environment and then ask him to tell you what he has discovered. You can observe life in an ant colony or watch a storm build up. Every day there are many learning opportunities that can be taken advantage of. And if he asks you something, but you don’t know the answer, confess it and investigate together.
Science is cumulative, which means that children will build on what they already know. In fact, it is an ideal subject to promote meaningful learning, which is built on previous knowledge. To stimulate this type of learning you must start from what your child already knows and expand his knowledge on that subject. Is not difficult. For example, when he asks you a question, find out what he knows and articulate your explanation based on that information.
Buy him science games
Science can be a lot of fun. If your child shows a special interest in some topics, he takes advantage of that curiosity and provides him with games that allow him to delve into science. A microscope , for example, could turn a trip to the pond into an afternoon of wonder and learning. There are also other great fun toys, like chemistry kits to experiment at home or even fossil dig kits to become a paleontologist for a day.
don’t forget the books
Books are also windows into science. You just have to make sure they are not boring. “Martin the Scientist”, for example, is a perfect children’s science book for children who are taking their first steps in this fascinating world. Its protagonist is a nine-year-old boy with whom children will quickly identify . Martín’s insatiable curiosity leads him to investigate different topics related to science in his day to day, from the states of matter to gravity, photosynthesis or the functioning of the immune system. In a clear and fun way, the book explores basic concepts about physics, chemistry or biology and even provides ideas so that children can do everyday “experiments” and understand the laws behind the phenomena that surround them. Without a doubt, an ideal reading to stimulate interest in science in children.