Tag Archives: teaching

It’s Never Too Early to Engage Children in STEM Education

istock_kids_stemExperts in education throughout the world agree that there is a national imperative to graduate students with an understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In 2007, a Carnegie Foundation commission concluded that the capacity to innovate and thrive in the modern workforce depends on a foundation of math and science learning.

But what is STEM exactly? STEM is an interdisciplinary and an applied approach to teaching. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. STEM can also be described as a philosophy: it’s a way of helping students to think in a more connected and holistic way.

Many parents ask us what age we think it is appropriate to start teaching STEM to children. We believe that it is never too early to start STEM education.

Children are very active learners at 1,2 and 3 years old so you don’t necessarily have to wait until they start kindergarten to engage in STEM activities. The research is quite clear that the best practice in early childhood education is to break away from passive instruction and allow for more play and investigation, and this kind of learning early in life builds skills and interests that serve children throughout their school years, and later in life. Take your children to the park and let them explore, get up and watch a sunrise with them or let them swim in the sea.

Lilian G. Katz, in STEM in the Early Years, lays out a case that the best practice for early education is to allow students to be active, engaged, and take initiative in their own learning. Allowing our children to have the opportunities to take initiative in their own learning is not only good for STEM learning, but for overall long-term academic success.

In a lot of academic instruction children are in a passive or receptive mode instead of being more active. Early childhood education should tap into children’s natural curiosity and give them ample opportunities to be active participants in their own learning. Natural settings offer children almost unlimited opportunities to explore and investigate, helping them build STEM skills that create a solid foundation for future learning.

If you’d like more information about STEM education please get in touch. We over private and group out-of-school classes in Toronto.

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Encourge your children to learn a second language

You don’t have to be bilingual to teach your children another language, you can start them off with the basics at a very young age before enrolling them in classes when they are older.

At the age of two or three, children are increasing their vocabulary and are starting to recognize speech patterns, this is prime time to start introducing a second language as it will be much easier for your child to pick up its unique sounds.

According to Francois Thibaut, director of the Language Workshop for Children in New York, the ability to hear different phonetic pronunciations is sharpest before age 3, and we lose the capacity to hear and produce certain sounds if we aren’t exposed to them early on. So just hearing a television show, listening to music, or learning a few words in a second language will give your child essential tools for appreciating it now and learning to speak it later.

The best way for your children to learn to understand a new language is for them to hear people speaking it fluently, as they will pick up on the sounds – young children love to mimic what they hear!

Teach a word at a time. If you don’t want to do formal lessons, you can introduce bilingual basics by pointing out to your child that objects can have two names — one in each language. As your child learns new words, tell him what they’re called in a second language too.

Of course, a children won’t learn to speak another language fluently from hearing words, watching videos, or singing songs. But simply being exposed to a language will help them understand phrases when they hear them.

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