I wrapped up my last post on STEM in early education by stating that the technology behind interactive toys is also increasingly important to give to young children. Here are my three reasons (among the many!):
1. Early Confidence-Building
The natural curiosity and imagination that comes from interacting with technology is a valuable confidence-building activity for children. Think about your own experiences with your smartphone or computer; it is a very personal interface. You are free to pursue your interests and potential without judgement or interference. When a child succeeds independently, it is a tremendous confidence boost.
2. Closing the Technology Gap
Even today, when it feels at times that technology is all around us, many children still do not have at home access to computers and come to school with little or no computer literacy. What happens when a child who has never touched a mouse is now expected to take an assessment on a school computer? Is that an accurate measurement of his content knowledge or his computer literacy?
What these children are faced with are technology gaps on top of academic achievement gaps, which creates a hostile environment where they not only feel they can’t succeed, but also start to feel at a very young age that they don’t even want to try. The technology gap, just like achievement gaps, become increasingly frustrating for them as they grow.
3. Nurturing Curiosity
Children naturally gravitate where they feel successful and get regular affirmation. They also have a huge amount of natural curiosity–about EVERYTHING. They want to know all the whys and hows of the world around them, and isn’t that what the STEM subjects are all about? If we harness this curiosity early and reinforce it with positive experiences than science, technology, engineering and math turn from hard to fun; from unknown to understanding.
Great teachers are naturally good at reaching these turning points for young students. Quality content and technology can help them do just that more effectively.
How do you bring STEM into your home or classroom?