Getting kids interested in science at an early age is very important. It's easier than you think. Science does not have to be something mysterious. It is happening all around us, and you can use everyday things to encourage your children's interest and knowledge.
Most parents believe that they can't help their children with science. But you don't need an advanced science degree to teach young children science. All you need is a willingness to try, to observe the world, and to take the time to encourage their natural curiosity.
You can help by having a positive attitude toward science yourself. Then start simply by asking your child questions about the things you see every day. Why do you think that happened? How do you think that works? And then listen to their answer without judging it or judging them. Listening without judging will improve their confidence, and help you determine just what your child does or does not know.
You can turn everyday activities into science projects. For example, don't just comment on how bright the moon is one night. Ask questions about why it's brighter tonight, why does it change shape, etc. You can observe the moon's phases throughout a month, and turn that activity into a science project, without even mentioning the words "science project". For a child that likes cooking, observe how milk curdles when you add vinegar, or how sugar melts into syrup. Try baking a cake and asking why does the cake rises? What happens if you forget to put in some ingredient? Voila! Instant science project idea, without being intimidating to you or your child.
Different kids have different interests so they need different kinds of science projects. A rock collection may interest your young daughter but your older son may need something more involved. Fortunately, it's not hard to find plenty of fun projects. Knowing your child is the best way to find enjoyable learning activities. Here are some more tips:
- Choose activities that are the right level of difficulty - not too easy nor too hard. If you are not sure, pick something easier since you don't want to discourage a child by making science frustrating. You can always do the harder project later on.
- Read the suggested ages on any projects, books, or toy labels, but then make sure that the activity is appropriate for your child, regardless of age. Your child's interests and abilities are unique. If a child interested in a topic, they may be able to do activities normally done by older kids, while a child who is not interested may need something easier aimed at a younger age.
- Consider how well the type of project matches your child's personality and learning style. Is the project meant to be done alone or in a group? Will it require adult help or supervision?
- Choose activities matched to your environment. A city full of bright lights at night may not be the best place to study the stars. But during your vacation to a remote area, you may be able to spark an interest in astronomy.
- Let your child help choose the project or activity. It's easy enough to ask. Rather than overwhelm them, suggest 2 or 3 possibilities. When a child picks something they are interested in, they will enjoy it and learn more from it.
Go ahead. Try it and see for yourself how easy it is the spark the interest of a child.