A new report by the National Science Foundation attempts to offer some possible solutions for better integrating STEM into early childhood education. The report found that both teachers and parents are extremely important in helping to develop young students’ STEM knowledge.
One of the issues is that while parents and educators want to integrate STEM, they sometimes feel as though they don’t have enough knowledge or support to do so. Teachers require more training and professional development to be able to adequately deliver STEM to their students.
The report also advised that parents be engaged in students’ learning of STEM. Parents are typically the biggest guides children have. While considering that, there should be reconsideration of how STEM research is done and to offer more institutional support for teachers hoping to add STEM to early childhood education.
Part of the issue facing integration of STEM into pre-K is access. Early childhood education is not available for everyone across the country, and adding STEM into it could create bigger gaps in digital understanding and equity. Without first investing in getting all young children into early childhood education, it’s hard to put in STEM. Early childhood education has a largely positive effect on disadvantaged children, and helps with school readiness.
Reports have shown that a greater emphasis on STEM and digital literacy early in a child’s education could boast economic benefits and savings for schools attempting to instill digital skills later on in a child’s education. A reported 57% of children under the age of eight are using educational apps, and despite digital gap concerns, the number of young children with an affinity for and skill with new tech far exceeds previous generations. Many have likely marveled at the way in which a four-year-old can utilize an IPad with the skill of someone much older.
Getting these tools into the hands of students earlier, even if it's to let them explore and experiment with games and fun activities, will likely make it easier later, when schools ask students to utilize those tools for their own educational enrichment.
(Story via Education Dive)