With the growing demand of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related occupations, the focus on STEM education has jumped significantly in recent years. However, the majority of kids nowadays have little to no interest in STEM subjects. The way they are introduced to STEM subjects in schools is unengaging and unrelated to their lives. They can’t connect the logic between Math formulas and living out their daily activities. Children should really be exposed to STEM in their homes since early age.
I was one of those students in Math class that didn’t follow the “secret code” of understanding what was on the board and therefore had no interest in it. But the funny thing is that I am actually very good at working in accounting and somehow accounting always made sense to me. The first time I became aware of this was when I was a young girl.
Growing up, I spent my summers in Minneapolis, Minnesota with my dad’s parents. I would always see my grandmother balancing her checkbook and I would ask her what she was doing. After she explained to me what it meant to balance a checkbook, every time I would notice her doing it again, I would ask her what she had bought and how much it had cost. I did this enough time to get my grandfather’s attention. To fuel this new interest of mine, my grandfather then started giving me an allowance so I could have money to buy candy or toys during my visit. He would ask me questions like “If I give you 50 cents for seven days, how long will it take you to buy one candy bar that costs $2.00? And how many candy bars can you buy?” I remember this was fun for me and I enjoyed having these conversations with him. Little did I know that he was subtly introducing me to math. I could figure out the logic behind it, and I enjoyed the concept of money and saving and spending. It just made sense. Even if I wasn’t a math star at school, I believe the reason I am good at accounting comes from my experience with my family in my early years.
Parents shouldn’t rely solely on sending their children to school to learn everything there is to learn in order to succeed in the workplace. Young children can be impacted way before they go to school and start learning in a fun way with their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles through all different types of activities. For example, one can teach them baking as an intro to chemistry, or outdoor activities to discover and introduce science and math. In my own example, I learned checks and balances through handling a weekly allowance. Exposing your kids to fun ways to build with blocks, Cubelets or Littlebits, will be a great way for them to start learning Computer Science and Engineering.
This concept of making STEM accessible to young children from birth requires parents to be on board with using these small yet very impactful activities with their kids. It might take some time for kids to become familiar with these activities and feel comfortable with them, but parents should be determined in their efforts. Also of equal importance is that once finding a child's interest… like my fascination with my grandmother balancing her checkbook... the parents should nurture that interest through play and daily exploration. Children are natural explorers. So why not introduce them at an early to the world of STEM in a fun and playful yet meaningful manner!
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