We often think that science is reserved for high school children and that not all children will be able to excel in science or even enjoy it. This is not the case at all. In world driven by scientific and technological advancements, it’s essential to introduce our children to science from a young age. Inspiring a child to question and test is a large and fun part of learning about the world. After all, science is not about knowing, but rather a journey of discovering.
Unfortunately, a lot of parents feel underqualified to take this journey with their children, especially those without any formal training in scientific fields. The good news is you do not need any special skills or training to raise a science lover!
Here are few tips to inspire you:
1. Questions, questions, questions…..
One of the fundamental aspects of science is asking questions. Encourage them.
How does this work? Why did that happen? What is this?
These questions may already sound familiar to you as children are naturally curious. We need to encourage children to ask these questions and give them the tools and resources to find the answers.
2. Explore together
Visits to the museum, botanical gardens, observatory, and even the local park can be full of interesting subjects for discussion and study. Make notes, take pictures, make drawings of your findings, and revisit them when you get home. You could even combine scientific exploration with your next holiday!
3. Give boys and girls equal exposure and encouragement
We often want to fix things and solve problems for girls without including them in the process. The scientific process knows no gender, and girls and boys are equally suited and interested in learning. Make sure to provide equal opportunity for learning by getting girls involved in activities that may not be traditionally girl-orientated and vice versa.
4. Be patient
Allow your child to explore, experiment, and observe at their own pace. It’s also important for them to fail occasionally and try again. Our instincts are often to jump in and help at the first sign of a struggle, but this is counter productive.
5. Get the resources
Try to provide as many reference books, activity books, online tutorials, and tools* as possible. Easy access to these resources makes learning easy and effortless. After an outing or a discussion, go to your resources and look up all the things you’ve seen and spoken about. This provides an opportunity for further learning and also extends the time spent on science-related activities.
6. Be prepared for some mess
Science can get messy! Make sure your child feels comfortable to experiment and allow her to make a mess in the name of science. As long as it is constructive mess, it’s worth the clean-up. Old clothes, an apron, and a plastic table cloth also help.
7. Listen to your child
Give your child space to voice her opinion. Try to understand what they are observing and thinking and allow them to explain to you. You could find that you are looking at the same object but seeing completely different things.
*A microscope is an invaluable tool to encourage exploration and deepen learning. You can get an ultra-affordable origami-inspired Foldscope online from www.scibuddy.co.za. Foldscopes are durable, easy-to-use, and portable, with 140× magnification. They are available as individual kits or classroom kits containing 20 or 100 units. Deluxe Individual Kits contain an extensive set of accessories to collect specimens and prepare slides. These kits are packaged in a beautiful metal case making it easy for little explorers to keep their Foldscope close at hand.
SciBuddy is the exclusive distributor of Foldscopes in South Africa. The owner, Arista Burke, has a background in microbiology and education. She believes that Foldscopes will be a gamechanger for South African children.