Why Children Should Be Introduced to Science at an Early Age
Children naturally explore and discover during play so introducing children to science at an early age builds on their ingrained curiosity. By collecting information about the world around them, science helps children to understand the world. It allows them to grasp more abstract ideas as they continue to grow.
Referencing children ages 3-5, the National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) position statement on early childhood science education states:
“The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) affirms that learning science and engineering practices in the early years can foster children’s curiosity and enjoyment in exploring the world around them and lay the foundation for a progression of science learning in K–12 settings and throughout their entire lives.”
However, NSTA also recognizes and encourages introducing children to science even younger (from birth to age 3) by helping them explore and understand the basics of the world around them. This can be done through exploratory play as well as teaching children to engage in conceptual learning and discuss what they learned. For infants and toddlers, this can be as simple as introducing them to water and sand and asking children exploratory questions to encourage them to think about “why.”
Observing Scientific Wonders
When children observe scientific “phenomena” they begin to build communication skills through questioning and learning new terminology. Introducing children to science at an early age also help them to develop reasoning skills through simple problem solving and understanding how things are connected in the world around them.
Interaction with Objects
The natural curiosity in children makes everything a wonder in their eyes. Exploring living things through touch (liquid water to ice), smell (seeds to flowers), and sight (the clouds in the sky) helps children understand concepts better than if they were to just hear or read stories.
Introducing Children to Science at Kids Harbor
Our teachers at Kids Harbor focus on introducing children to science through experiential learning. Through play, students explore things around them using their senses to discover their ability to make things happen and solve simple problems. Simple (and incredibly fun) activities can help children begin to formulate questions about living things they encounter. This includes activities like planting seeds and watching them change into a living plant and watching tadpoles grow into frogs.
Offering students opportunities to observe non-living things like clouds and rocks helps children better understand their environment and how one thing can impact another.
We integrate a variety of tools in our classrooms (both indoor and outdoor). This includes: worm farms, gardens, terrestrial tanks, butterfly transformation pods, weather stations… and even space stations! These encourage children to observe, imagine, reflect while grow vocabulary and language structures as they discuss experiences.
Even if your school doesn’t incorporate all of these ideas for introducing children to science, there are many things you can do at home!
Field trips to museums, libraries, forests and parks can begin to introduce your children to the fantastic scientific world around them. Bring home a leaf (ones you know are safe!) and see if you can identify which type of plant it is. Watch a butterfly or a fern uncurling out of the earth. Help point these things out to your child and ask questions to get them thinking about how things work. It’s amazing to watch your child’s face light up with wonderment of science (and they don’t even know they’re learning)!
More information on Science in early childhood development can be found in this NAEYC publication, “Science is in the Air”.