Cultivate a STEM Mindset in Your Child

In our increasingly complex world, in order for the United States to continue as a global leader, it’s more crucial than ever to ensure that our children have the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence and make sense of information. One of the best things we can do in this regard is to encourage the study of science, technology, engineering, and math—the subjects collectively known as STEM.

The skills that are learned through a STEM education are increasingly necessary in our tech-savvy world. They can also pave the way to some of the most in-demand jobs our economy has to offer.

In addition to encouraging your kids to pursue STEM subjects in school, there are some things you can do as a parent to engage your child in STEM learning outside of the classroom.

Encourage curiosity—If your child is always asking “why”’ and “how,” take the time to explain the things that you understand. If they ask a question you can’t answer, look up the answer together to show them how to research a subject.

Seek out educational programming—There is a multitude of excellent educational programming available to us today. So, the next time you and your child are looking for something to watch together, don’t gloss over the educational or “documentaries” sections of TV services like Netflix; cable channels such as the History Channel, Discovery Channel and National Geographic; and Public Television’s NOVA.

There are also plenty of kids’ and primetime television shows that have more of a STEM theme than you may expect. Sid the Science Kid is a great option to spur a science interest in early learners. For older students, shows like CSI or Numb3rs, can spark an interest in forensic science and math.

museum3Visit a science museum—There’s no better way for your child to get firsthand experience with science than by taking them to a science museum. Science museum exhibits expose children to complex and fascinating science and technology concepts in creative and accessible ways. Hands-on museums even give kids the chance to run their own experiments and engage interactively. Metro Detroit offers excellent science museums, including The Michigan Science Center and Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Look for STEM-based extracurricular activities—There are any number of activities and events today for children who are interested in STEM-related subjects. Encourage your child to engage in science fairs and engineering design competitions, for example. Competitions such as the FIRST Robotics and Junior FIRST Lego® League programs have grown very popular in recent years. They challenge teams of students to solve real-world science and technology problems by building robots with the mentorship of an industry professional.

Pave the way for a STEM career—Talk to your child about different options for a career in STEM. If you’re in a STEM field yourself, bring your child to work with you one day. Ask friends or family members in a STEM field to talk to your child about what their jobs are like, or even set up a job shadow if your child has a strong interest. Check out Pathways to Science (www.pathwaystoscience.org) which maintains lists of STEM internship programs for K–8 and high school students.

If your child needs a little help with STEM-related subjects, Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping students improve their study, reading, math and cognitive skills. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

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