If you’re a parent of a school-aged kid, you’re likely familiar with the recent focus on STEM education. From news anchors to teachers, you’ve likely heard the benefits of an emphasis on STEM subjects. But what about STEAM?STEAM modifies STEM– science, technology, engineering, and math– by adding art, a crucial part of a well-rounded curriculum, and it’s the hottest trend in education right now. With entities as diverse as music television station VH1 and well-known design school RISDpromoting it, STEAM is poised to change the narrative around the most important subjects for today’s students.
We believe that art and design are a critical component of how kids will solve the problems of the future. STEAM keeps the focus on important science and technology skills while also drawing out the creativity inside every child.
Here are a few things you can do to enrich your child’s STEAM education at home:
1. Get hands on
Encourage your kids to create, not consume, and you’ll be surprised at what they can accomplish! From at-home science experiments to crafts, giving kids the tools to create something out of nothing can spark their creativity and instill confidence in their abilities. Check out Pinterest for some fun ideas to get you started.
2. Educational experiences outside of school
Now there are more options than ever for kids to have learning experiences outside of the classroom. From summer art camps to online tech courses, there’s something out there for every kid to explore their passions. Talk to your kid about what subjects they enjoy in school, what their dream job is, or what they’d love to create, and their interests will point you in the right direction.
3. Toys and games that teach STEAM skills
Not all toys are created equal! When shopping for gifts and games for your kids, look for toys that allow kids to apply or learn STEAM skills. While kids might not think “educational” toys can be fun, you’ll prove them wrong with kits that empower them to use the math, science, and art concepts they’ve learned in school. These days, many gift guides even have special sections for toys that teach STEAM skills.
4. Trips and travel
Learning can happen anywhere, so it’s a great idea to plan educational adventures for the whole family. There are plenty of local options for kids to explore STEAM concepts, from museums to aquariums and zoos. Also, many cities have children’s museums with experiential exhibits to help kids learn and create. You could even plan your family vacations to destinations that feature outstanding educational opportunities. You could take weekend trips to places like the kid-favorite Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and the New York Hall of Science, which features over 400 hands-on exhibits.
5. Read news and share stories
Technology is evolving faster than ever, which means there’s always a new invention or cool innovation to read about. Keep your kids clued in to the latest in tech by following kid-friendly news sites like KidsPost from the Washington Post and Time for Kids. You can share cool stories about 3D printing, video games, fashion design, or any subject your kid finds interesting and talk about how it relates to the STEAM concepts they’ve learned in school.
6. Integrate it into daily life
Science, technology, engineering, art, and math are all around us in our daily lives, which gives parents countless opportunities for teachable moments. When cooking dinner you can discuss the different states of matter with your kids as you boil water, or explain the different types of heat transfer used by a microwave versus an oven. Almost every task we do– driving a car, assembling new furniture, or even just flipping a light switch– relates to STEAM in some way!
Enriching your kid’s STEAM education at home is a great way to set them up for success in school and in life. What’s your favorite way to emphasize STEAM skills outside the classroom?