The UK has a serious science, technology, engineering and mathematics(STEM) skills gap. It’s estimated to cost our economy £1.5bn per each year, highlighting the urgent need to get more young people interested and engaged in STEM. So how can you take steps to ignite a new passion in your own child?
Whether you hope they pursue a certain career or simply wish to aid their wider development, here are five smart ways to get your child interested in STEM.
Incorporate STEM into everyday life
It’s helpful to show children how STEM exists outside of classrooms and laboratories and in fact influences many of the things they might see in everyday life.
Cooking is one example, with processes such as boiling water, toasting bread and melting butter all offering interesting learning opportunities. Going for a bike ride is anotherand can be used to teach children various physics lessons.
Identify STEM role models
Identifying people to look up to is a great way to engage a child’s interest and show them just what’s possible.That could include high-profile celebrities such as Brian Cox, TV or video game characters or even family members or friends in STEM-related roles.
It can be especially helpful to praise role models who share certain characteristics with your child, be it gender, race or disability.
Make it fun and hands-on
STEM subjects don’t have to existin textbooks and abstract theories. They offer lots of opportunities for hands-on learning, whether that means enjoying educational days out or starting fun projects at home.
Take trips to local museums or surprise them with a day out at the zoo. Or how about encouraging them to build their own PC from scratch with a Raspberry Pi starter kit?
There’s no doubt that STEM subjects are challenging, and it’s common for young people to feel deterred due to a fear of failure. This makes it important to show them that experimentation is a positive thing and that making errors can create better opportunities to learn.
This is especially true of coding for example, where debugging code can help to strengthen a child’s understanding of their chosen programming language.
Even if you consciously try to avoid promoting gender or racial stereotypes, it can be easy for children to believe that certain subjects are out of their reach because of who they are.
Try to notidentify activities or objects as gender-specific for example. There’s a big push underway to get more young girls into STEM – and breaking down those barriers at home will supportsociety as well as your child’s ambitions.
Follow these tips and principles to engage your child’s curiosity and show them how much they could achieve.