Teaching STEAM in Early Childhood
“The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” -Seymour Papert
Often, I have heard adults state they were not creative or imaginative. What if they had been given that opportunity when they were a child? Would the results be the same? I do not believe they would. Providing a child, the materials to use their imagination strengthens those skills and encourages them to want more. Introducing a child to STEM or STEAM is the best thing we, as teachers and parents, can do for the children. Teaching STEAM in early childhood is a positive movement of ingenious teaching through providing materials and allowing the child’s mind to explore, create, and learn.
STEM or STEAM
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEAM is the addition of Art into the mix. Science, math, and art have been taught in schools for what seems like forever. Nothing new there, but is there? Yes, it’s the way these areas of focus are taught that has changed over the years. When I was in school, you read your math assignment, then you completed the problems making sure to show your work. Today, the math is lifted off the page into three dimensions. The child is given materials. They put their hands on these materials and they manipulate them in a way that helps the learning process. The same with science and art. In art class we graduated over the years from finger painting to painting with brushes. Today, the process of learning art is so much more. It is exploring textures, depth, light, color, and exploration of different tools and surfaces.
It’s the T and E part of STEAM that educators and parents tend to be intimidated by during the years of early childhood. Technology and engineering used to be thought of as classes taught only on a college level, it is understandable how one may feel intimidated. Instead of thinking of these terms on a college level, we need to break them down into the first beginnings of learning.
The best thing we can do when teaching STEAM in early childhood is to ask those all-important questions… the who, what, when, where, and how of every step. The more questions asked, the more the child will implement critical thinking skills and spark the imaginative mind. When you take technology and engineering and break them down into the most simplistic terms, teaching those areas of focus is a breeze. What makes the balloon move, what happens if you put your hand on top of it, what happens when we let the air out… those are starter questions to a balloon experiment. There are so many more questions that could be asked.
STEAM in Early Childhood
Between the ages of birth to five years, a child is learning the basics of everything. Anything that is taught must be done so from the very beginning. Teaching STEAM is no different. Learning the focus areas of STEAM are an important part of the todays child’s life. We must not be afraid to try new things, new techniques, and allow the children to discover and learn using a hands-on methodology.
Below are some informational links to help learn how to teach STEAM in the early childhood classroom.
- Teach Beside Me – WHY DOES STEAM EDUCATION MATTER?
- ProSolutions – 8 ideas for incorporating STEM learning in the preschool classroom
- Science Buddies – Lesson Plans
- NAEYC – Books that Support STEM
- Teach Preschool – What does STEM look like in preschool and what is STEM anyway?
- Hechinger Report – Eight ways to introduce kids to STEM at an early age
- Natural Start – Engaging Children in STEM Education EARLY!
Author: Belinda Davis ©2019