‘Stem’ learning, with art as an addition, is the new focus for early development, education and learning so as to prepare children for the future in the ever-changing world. The acronym STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.
Steam learning programmes teach children critical thinking and problem solving, and encourages creative solutions to real world problems. Teaching these academic disciplines from a young age will better prepare children for the world in which they will grow, and ultimately govern.
S - SCIENCE:
With its origin in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, science has played an important role in the developmental studies of mathematics, astronomy, medicine and philosophy. Modern science has three major sections Natural Science, Social Science and Formal Science.
Social Science:• Economics
• Theoretical Computer Science
In all of this it is not expected that young children be given textbooks to read but rather allowing them to play, through discovery, in such a way that they become curious and ask questions and in so doing, they learn.
Puzzles, board games and card games are an excellent way to impart some principles.
T - TECHNOLOGY:
With the ever-evolving technology sector, this is an extremely important part of early learning. Not merely screen-time but in fact, in what manner things work, why they work, and why they don't always work.
The early origins of technology can be traced to times past where cave people and bush people used stone tools! How we have evolved!
The wheel, the engine, the printing press, the lightbulb, the telephone, the computer and the internet to highlight but a few major technological advances that have shaped our world.
Coding courses are now available for children as young as six, and in some countries even younger.
Take the cue from your kids. Lead and guide them where possible to introduce them to early development play activities, such as fishing and matching games. Speak to them about how shapes fit and work, and for the more advanced children attempt magnetic building tiles.
E - ENGINEERING:
Engineering has given us many inventions such as the wedge, the lever, the wheel, pulley and catapult to name but a few. These led to bridges, buildings, waterwheels, steam engines, cars, planes and spacecrafts.
The Main branches of engineering are:
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Bio- Engineering
Other branches of engineering:
- Computer Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Geological Engineering
- Marine Engineering
Engineering and problem solving go hand in hand. Early-stage learning which includes problem solving is critical as everything in the world depends on some form of engineering.
The basic principles of engineering can be taught in activities such as puzzles, building and stacking blocks or road and track games.
A - ART:
Art and all things creative, is the ‘glue’ that binds the various sectors together.
The ability to create and imagine, are a necessity for expression and development and bond communities and cultures together.
Cave paintings are the earliest known form of art. Art through the ages has developed and changed the way in which we see objects and the world at large. The classification of the arts is thus:
- Conceptual Art
- Written art (Writing, poetry)
- Applied Art
- Video Games
Art is an expression of creativity which each and every one possesses. Some to a greater or lesser extent than others. The most rewarding is the fact that art is seen all around and can be enjoyed by everyone.
Kids love messing so paint, chalks and colouring in are a necessity. It is also tremendously important for them to try drawing, Magnetic Drawing Boards can be fun. Participating in singing and dancing games such as musical statues and karaoke can be enjoyed and thereby ensuring that chaos around the house is minimized. Dressing up is fun too, and ‘putting’ on shows or playing pretend is a wonderful way to encourage creativity – try these temporary tattoos for complimenting the perfect dress up character.
M - MATHEMATICS:
Evident even in prehistoric times, are tallies found on bone showing the grouping of similar items. Later the Babylonians and Egyptians used arithmetic, algebra, geometry and astronomy.
Fast forward to today and the following categories in mathematics are to be found:
- Number Theory
- Calculus and Analysis
- Discrete Mathematics
- Mathematical logic and set theory
- Applied mathematics
- Statistics and other decision sciences
- Computational mathematics
Mathematics eliminates boundaries of time and culture, it features in social activities, education, careers and even the arts.
Encouraging mathematical skills is very easy. For early learning number recognition, sorting and ordering are great skills development. Have a look at the Math Building Blocks, Number Puzzles, Rabbit Balance Math Building Blocks and Ice Cream Counter.
Family games such as chess, backgammon and rummy will also inspire mathematical learning.
Playing is fun! With so many STEAM elements that can be incorporated into everyday playtime and activities, it is easy to help your child develop and become the best that they can be. Remember to ask them questions and see how creative they can be in problem solving and the like.