From a very early age, kids are naturally curious about their surroundings. This curiosity is evident in the wide eyes of an infant trying to take in everything they see, the never-ending questions from a toddler, and the passion a young child discovers for a favorite animal, or subject in school. As parents, it is important to recognize and engage this curiosity. Encouraging curiosity will strengthen your child’s problem solving skills and help them to succeed as they continue their education throughout their lives. Here are a few tips to help you engage your kid’s curiosity.
Don’t Answer Immediately
This first secret to engaging your kids may seem contrary to helping your child learn. However, answering a question they ask quickly and directly will shut down curiosity. This question that has peeked your child’s interest will be forgotten or dismissed if they are spoon fed an answer. Instead, try responding to questions in a way that encourages them to continue to ponder and problem solve for them self. Such a response might be “That is a good question. What do you think?” or “Hmmm, good question, let’s talk about it. We can figure out the answer together.” Answering their simple, or complex, questions in this way may require more patience on your part, but will ultimately benefit your child’s ability to learn.
Read with Them
Engage your child’s curiosity by exposing them to new worlds, adventures, and possibilities that can be found in books. As you read, encourage your kid to ask questions during the story. Talking about the events in a story will not only improve your child’s listening comprehension, but it will also help them to be engaged in and curious about the book. This strategy will lead to a lifelong love of books, and an increase in curiosity.
Ask Stimulating Questions
Another great way to engage your kid’s curiosity is to ask them questions! If your little ones get bored during a long drive, engage them in conversation. Try asking them questions about their surroundings, their favorite characters in a book or movie they read or watched recently, or their favorite things. Encouraging your child to think things through and answer stimulating questions will build curiosity for a subject, and teach them to articulate their thoughts and feelings. The ability to think critically and articulate thoughts are invaluable skills that will benefit your child in their future in many ways.
When curious children are asking questions about the physical world, it is never to early to introduce the engineering process! Occasionally, engage your kid’s curiosity by helping them take their question and turn it into an experiment. Form a hypothesis, do some research, and come up with a way to test it out and make a discovery! This hands-on way of engaging your kid’s curiosity will encourage them to keep asking questions, and give them the resources and abilities to find answers.
Go to a Museum
Putting your kid in an environment where they will see and experience new and different things will stimulate and engage their curiosity. A trip to a museum can be a memorable way to get your child thinking about the world around them. Plan to visit Utah’s Museum of Natural History or the Clark Planetarium with your kids. The exciting exhibits are thought provoking and a lot of fun.
Visit the Library
Engage your kid’s curiosity by taking them to the library. Books for children of all ages are a great resource for learning something new. Doing research or reading a fun book is a great way to satisfy curiosity. A trip to the library is a great way to expound upon a child’s curiosity, and to encourage them to keep learning.
A great way to keep your curious child engaged is to send them outside. There is nothing like playing with a friend or alone with nothing but the surroundings to entertain to encourage curiosity and creativity. Imaginative play encourages children to think outside of the box, entertain wild ideas and possibilities, and explore curiosity. Encouraging your kid to play in this way will help them to develop their creativity and engage their curiosity.
Another way to encourage creativity as a method of engaging curiosity is through art. Whether your child likes to doodle with a crayon, sculpt with play dough, finger paint, make up a dance or sing a song, supporting your kid’s exploration of art will help them think about the world in different ways. Expose your child to art work and ask them what they see, or how it makes them feel. Conversations about art will engage your kid’s curiosity and get them to think about things in a new way. Exploring their curiosity through creating art will boost creativity and problem solving skills.
Child-like curiosity about the world around them may prompt creative or silly stories. For example, if your child found an oddly shaped rock while walking through a park, encourage them to think about why a rock would be shaped that way or make up a story about the rock’s “Adventures in the Park”. Permission to tell a story, fictitious or otherwise, will engage a child’s curiosity and encourage them to be curious about the world around them.
It is important to remember to celebrate the little things in your child’s curiosity, learning, and discoveries. Celebrate with your child when they make a new discovery, or when their curiosity is rewarded by thinking critically. Moments of positive reinforcement will strengthen your kid’s desire to learn more, and encourage them to engage their curiosity their whole life.
At The STEM Shoppe we engage a child’s curiosity and encourage them to be curious about the world around them.
Sneaky ways to get kids to read!
Encouraging children to read can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. It can be tempting to put reading on a chore chart or reward children with prizes after they read a certain amount. However, these tactics may reinforce the idea that reading is a daunting task that must be completed before they can watch T.V. or play outside with their friends. Instead, try some of these tips to get your little one reading!
Young children love asking questions and when they find something interesting, they may want to learn more! No matter what age your child is, take advantage of this curiosity and take a trip to the library. If your kid is fascinated with bugs, they will love reading Bob Barner’s book Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! or Smithsonian Little Explorer book Insects by Martha E. H. Rustad with you. A book about an interesting subject and one on one time with Mom, Dad or an older sibling will help your child associate reading with positive experiences, and motivate them to want to learn to read on their own.
Bring Books to Life
Another sneaky way to encourage kids to love reading is to plan activities or experiments based off of the stories in books that you can do together. Reading a story like Magic School Bus: The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake, A Book about Kitchen Chemistry by Joanna Cole and Linda Ward Beech and baking a cake together while discussing what they learned in the story! A science experiment with slime at home is a fun and unforgettable learning opportunity. Read The Slime Wars, written by Debbie Dadey and experiment with different slime recipes to have fun with reading and science.
Read Before Bed
Send kids to bed with books they love! Fun science fiction books like Aliens Love Underpants, Galaxy Zack, and Magic Treehouse: Dinosaurs before Dark will get kids excited about science and give kids the chance to read on their own, while getting to stay up a bit later.
Every child is different, and there are so many ways to encourage young children to read! What books do your kids love? What tips and tricks have worked to get your kids reading? Let us know! Visit our website at www.TheSTEMShoppe.com and like our page on facebook!
STEM is the acronym used when talking about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These subjects are vitally important to our world and the people in it. This importance can be seen in the rapid rate at which jobs in STEM fields are growing in the United States. Educating children and fostering their love for STEM will help them become the important scientists and engineers of the future, well rounded citizens, and lifelong learners.
STEM in our World
STEM impacts every aspect of our lives. The food you eat, the car you drive, the cellphone in your hand, and the antibiotic in your fridge are all a product of STEM. Everyday, new discoveries are being made in medicine. Young people with a love of science have the potential to synthesis some new life saving treatment in the future. Research about car crashes and safety measures are constantly revolutionizing the way we travel. Your little one who loves building with Legos and creating new things may grow up to engineer the next model of airplane, or self-driving car. The potential for development, growth and change in the STEM field is limitless, and the sky's the limit with the up coming generation.
Jobs in STEM fields are projected to increase by up to 60% in the next ten years! This pressing demand for well educated people with a passion for STEM will be filled by this upcoming generation. Former president of the United States, Barack Obama encourages young people to “move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math." The federal government have recently attempted to increase STEM in elementary curriculum in an attempt to fill the incredible increase in job availability with well educated, passionate individuals (Department of Education, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Education for Global Leadership, https://www.ed.gov/stem). After school programs such as The STEM Shoppe supplement these efforts by offering children an opportunity to have hands on, positive experiences with the subjects they learn about in school. This comprehensive exposure to STEM will prepare children to continue to learn and excel in STEM careers in the future.
Benefits of Starting Young
Studies have shown that when individuals have positive experiences with math and science as young children, they are more likely to stick with the challenging demands of STEM paths in college and careers later in their life (Wang, Motivational Pathways to STEM Career Choices: Using Expectancy-Value Perspective to Understand Individual and Gender Differences in STEM Fields, National Center for Biotechnology Information). Exposing children to fascinating and fun experiments that are hands on and engaging can provide that positive experience. Challenging children to solve difficult puzzles and engineer creative solutions leads to an increase of confidence in their ability to do hard things.
Why the STEM Shoppe?
At the STEM shoppe, our goal is to catch that spark and inspire your children to love learning, experimenting, and creating. We encourage curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity through STEM challenges, hands on experiments, and engaging activities! Our students with monthly memberships have the opportunity to do different activities every week, such as; exciting chemical reactions, coding with robots and computer software, various STEM challenges and much more. As a staff, we care about each child and are committed to providing a safe environment for growth and fun! Registration is open now for monthly memberships. Save $20 by enrolling your child for a school year of fun at the STEM shoppe now! http://www.thestemshoppe.com/monthly-memberships.html
Has your child ever dreamed of being an astronaut, or a mad scientist? Encouraging your son or daughter to pursue these interests can lead to a career in the fastest growing field in the United States. Job opportunities in the STEM field are expected to grow by 17% over the next ten years. The STEM Night for Boys and GIRLS is a perfect opportunity to have fun and learn some new things! All boys and girls ages 5-12 will love engineering and experimenting at The STEM Shoppe. Join us on Saturday, September 30th for a night of chemistry, engineering, and robotics. Registration is now open. This is a night you don’t want your child to miss.
#STEM #STEMisPower #STEMShoppe
What do you get when you mix 35 GIRLS and The STEM Shoppe? A morning full of integrated FUN with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). On Saturday, July 15th, The STEM Shoppe partnered with JA City of Utah to bring a Morning of STEM for GIRLS to Salt Lake City. These future STEM professionals were able to use real-world applications, problem solving, and critical thinking skills in this three hour event. We believe that we can empower GIRLS to make a positive impact in the world by exposing them to STEM at a young age. Our next STEM for GIRLS is on Saturday, September 9, 2017 from 5-8PM at our Farmington location. Visit our website at www.TheStemShoppe.com for more information. #STEMShoppe #STEM #JACityUtah
We have the best job around! Last week children learned about microcontrollers, math magic tricks, coding, and more. The STEM Shoppe is the place for your children to play, make a mess, and learn some hands on minds on STEM everyday. Enroll your children for half a day, a full day, or a full week. The children enrolled in our summer camps are having so much FUN learning. Today, one of our campers used what she learned in camp last week to read the minds of Brittany Graham and Dave Nemeth on Fox 13's The PLACE.
School is out for the summer and that means it's time for Summer Camp! This provides us the opportunity to share our passion with children ages 5-12. For the next 10-weeks we will explore STEM in and out of The Stem Shoppe. Discover how we integrate real world applications into hands-on minds-on learning. Follow us on Facebook to view our videos, STEM challenges, and FUN activities.
Did you know today is Earth Day? Many people are celebrating our planet in many different ways. Here are FIVE ideas you can try to celebrate Earth Day on your own, with family/friends, or your community.
1. Take a nature walk and enjoy the beautiful planet we live on. Some of our favorite hikes can be found in the book 60 Hikes within 60 Miles.
2. Visit www.storylineonline.net and listen to an actor read aloud a BOOK of your choice. You can select the title, author, or reader. Ed O'Neill reads the book How I learned Geography
3. Watch a video or Netflick documentary about our planet.
4. Plant a tree with your family or friends. J and L in Bountiful, UT sells them in a five gallon bucket.
5. March for Science - If you live in Salt Lake City the march starts at 3PM today.
Before the day ends get out out there and enjoy the beauty of the planet we live on.
What are you doing for Earth Day?
Comment below and tell us what you are doing.
Delia Bayna, M.Ed. is an K-8 educator and frequently provides professional development opportunities for K-8 teachers state-wide.