If you are a parent, you may have heard of this term ‘STEAM Education’ popping up on school websites, curriculum briefs, and the like. What exactly is STEAM education, anyway?
While the traditional way of education sees schools teaching subjects in isolation (think English learning in English classes, arithmetics in math classes, and science in science classes), a more progressive way of learning has emerged in the past few years, advocating for an integrated approach to learning. At first, this was known as STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Formulated to include the disciplines most in-demand in today’s tech-driven world, the educational approach encourages hands-on learning that involves the real-life application of interdisciplinary concepts.
However, some schools recognised the importance of other pertinent subject areas, and have respectively adjusted the acronym to reflect the focus of their own programmes. A more recent addition is the ‘A’ in STEAM, which stands for ‘Arts’. In some versions, such as the one adopted by the Canadian International School in Singapore, the ‘E’ stands for ‘Entrepreneurship’ instead.
While the STEAM or STEM program in Singapore is adopted in some form by many international schools here, it will also be helpful for parents to supplement their child’s learning of these interdisciplinary skills through educational home activities. Delve into the suggestions below for some approaches to promote STEAM learning in your children:
Ask them questions
In its strictest sense, science is not about learning scientific facts, but rather, a way of thinking. You can promote this way of thinking in your child by prompting them with questions to stir up their curiosity. Then, guide them in methods of scientific query by leading them to make a hypothesis, and then devising ways to test their hypothesis. For example, when your child makes a claim, ask them ‘how do you know this?’ and encourage them to find out through applying existing knowledge, experimentation, and investigation.
Provide them with suitable materials
To address the ‘A’ in STEAM, parents should give children ample opportunities to exercise their creativity and artistry. What parents can do is to provide children with suitable materials such as open-ended toys and art materials to allow children room for imagination and expression. Examples of such materials include building blocks, drawing tools, and clay or play-dough. Some of these creative toys also promote engineering thinking, such as when children figure out the best way to connect lego blocks and create sculptures.
Incorporate learning into daily life
The whole spirit of STEAM education is to make learning relevant to life. Math concepts are ever-present, and parents can easily make use of everyday situations to bring the child’s attention to these concepts. For example, a pizza or a cake is a great chance to introduce kids to the concept of division and fractions. You can also train up entrepreneurship in children by guiding them to manage their own money in terms of choosing when to spend and save.
Guide them to use technology
While there are risks of allowing your kids too much use of technology from a young age, it is still beneficial to ensure that your children doesn’t get left out on digital learning. To minimise the risks of addiction, cyber threats, and more, parents should always guide and monitor their child until they are old enough to use it independently and responsibly. Some vital skills to equip your child with early are typing skills and web-surfing. You can also consider exposing your child to coding, and other technological devices like cameras and remote-controlled toys.
There are many ways to implement STEAM learning in and around the home to instil a voracious appetite for learning in children. Complement your home efforts with a renowned school programme for STEAM-centred learning at a top international school to ensure your child gets the best experience. A firm foundation in STEAM will help your child wherever they choose to go in future, be it in their study of IB diploma subjects, or in their prospective careers.