Children have an innate drive for discovery. They are born with wonderful imaginations and a keen desire to explore and understand their world. Here are 10 tips to encourage and support your child’s discovery of science and the world around him.
- Value your child’s questions. “Mommy/Daddy, why is the moon following us?” With this question, a child lets us know she is thinking about how the world works. We can respond in ways that encourage her scientific thinking. Enjoy discussing the questions your child asks. Encourage her to share her perspective and observations.
- Explore and find the answers together. If you are uncertain how to answer your child’s question you can respond with “What do you think?” or “I don’t know but we can find out together”. This can stimulate more thought and additional questions. Then explore and find the answers together.
- Give children time and space to explore. Children learn science through trial and error. They need time to experiment, try things out, and think on their own. Wait before jumping in with “correct” answers.
- Accept that explorations are often messy. Whether it’s outdoor exploration with mud and sticks or indoors with water, children are likely to get dirty when they explore materials. Dress children in old clothing and tell them it’s ok to get dirty.
- Learn from mistakes together. If an experiment goes wrong, take advantage and investigate with your child to see what went wrong. A mistake can lead to all kinds of possibilities and it provides opportunities for you and your child to refine your ideas, understanding, and hypotheses.
- Invite curiosity. Science learning begins with curiosity. Observations and questions can create a climate of discovery – which is key to scientific learning.
- Support further exploration. Intentional adult interactions with children can extend their learning. When the moment is right – maybe when she’s done exploring on her own, offer a suggestion to extend the exploration. Guide your child by asking questions like, “What might happen if we try this?” Share some things you find while exploring, – a beautiful striped rock, for example. This lets your child know there is always something worthy of our attention and investigation.
- Encourage children to record their observations. Writing, drawing, or taking photographs are all ways to record observations – an important scientific skill. Such records allow children to keep track of what they saw, heard, questioned, or discovered. When you notice your child is interested in something (like the moon, leaves changing on the trees, or the growth of a plant) you can suggest ways for them to record what they have observed.
- Make good use of your electronic devices. Take pictures of a pretty butterfly, record frog sounds, use a website or app to learn more about a specific phenomenon or creature.
- Use items you have at home to experiment and explore. Although there are great science kits to purchase on the market, you don’t necessarily need to spend money buying science supplies.
The love of science almost always begins at home! Here are some articles that may be of interest to you: