STEM education has to do with teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These subjects often cause those who homeschool or who are considering homeschooling to worry that they won’t be able to succeed–that they won’t be able to educate their children well in these subjects. Today, though, teaching these subjects doesn’t have to be a frightening prospect! There are so many great ideas and resources available to us that the real problem is how to narrow them down! Keep reading to learn more about how to promote STEM education in your homeschool and some of the resources you might want to consider using to make it fun and easy for you and your students!
When I was a child, I HATED science. We used textbook-based curriculum that I Just. Didn’t. Get. I don’t know if it was my fault or the curriculum’s fault, but I thought science was the worst subject ever.
Math was not far behind. I liked a few things, but mainly I could have done without it.
We didn’t focus much on engineering in school growing up, but we definitely focused on it during play. I remember constructing some risky implements while we played outside–such as a two-story-high tire swing, stick “weapons,” and a fort made from scrap wood.
Of all the STEM subjects, I was lacking the most in math and science. Unfortunately, you need a strong basic understanding of both of these subjects when pursuing many career paths today. For example, I use a lot of science information while writing from home, and my husband uses math and programming algorithms in the legal field.
I always knew I wanted to focus more on STEM activities for kids when our own children reached school age, but with a weaker background in STEM, how does a parent encourage the development of STEM skills? Here is what we have found works for us:
How to Promote STEM Education in Your Homeschool
Jump in with easy activities:
Our kids are still young, so they still learn from the most basic of science experiments (different ingredients make chemical reactions!), but what I love about any STEM activity is that there is always more to learn. You can make any project as simple or as complicated as you like to suit interest and ability level. When we did our nature science walk, Monkey learned about the life cycle of plants, weather patterns, and the scientific names for plants. Bo just learned the difference between a flower and a tree.
Use a kit:
We are still building up our resources for STEM activities, so we don’t have everything for every project yet. We love purchasing kits that come with everything you need for several projects (We like these Young Scientists kits), which really makes things a lot easier.
Learn along with your kids:
I am not super strong in science or math, which means that I often learn things along with Monkey and Bo. When we learned about rocks, I learned how to categorize rocks for the first time, too! When Monkey was learning how to add and subtract larger numbers, I learned a few new tricks. I think it’s really fun to learn along with them!
Allow open-ended learning:
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of our STEM education came through play when I was growing up. My family and I live in an apartment in the middle of the city, which makes building tree forts a little more difficult. But we try to allow our children the freedom to experiment and explore on their own as much as possible. I try to make sure we have plenty of open-ended supplies on hand for spontaneous STEM learning.
Don’t force it:
Part of what made us dive headfirst into STEM was Monkey’s love of science and experimenting. She has a mind that wants to explore and learn about science, so we embrace it. I thought I didn’t like science and math as a child because it felt forced and boring. Fostering a passion for STEM is a delicate balance between providing solid concepts and allowing children to have fun and explore at their own pace.
Make it fun:
Providing a fun way to learn is probably the most important part of early STEM education. A strong base of fun can help kids power through the boring years in high school to get to the other side in college and in future careers.
Here are a few of our favorite STEM-related resources:
Do you promote STEM education in your homeschool? Do you have a background in STEM, or are you winging it like we are?