As a busy mom, I want to give my son the best headstart possible when it comes to his education. I want to support his growth and help him engage the world around him. I am sure you feel the same way about your young ones, and I want to share how I enhance my child’s education with STEAM education at home.
You know what? The secret sauce to a successful school experience actually starts right in our homes, and it revolves around our relationship with our kiddos.
Getting them into good habits at home is a game-changer, and teaching STEAM at home can give your little ones a tremendous head start compared to their peers. This can be anything from a steady bedtime routine to encouraging them to help out with little chores.
The goal is to create routines that our little ones can easily transition into when the school bell rings, and STEAM/STEM in preschool can help your young learners with the basics needed to build a strong future of learning fun!
But it’s not just about habits and routines. It’s about fostering a cozy, trusting bond with our kiddos. When we create a space where they feel loved and secure, they’ll find it easier to open up about their worries or any hiccups they face at school. Believe me, knowing they can count on us when school gets a bit challenging makes a world of difference.
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and embark on this exciting journey together, nurturing our children’s love for learning one day at a time.
Why do parents matter in a child’s learning?
As parents, we have a superpower – our involvement can work magic in helping our children succeed at school. But like all superpowers, it’s all about using it right. Go overboard, and it could backfire. Do too little, and we might miss the chance to make a difference.
It’s a balancing act, for sure!
But don’t worry – I’ve got some good news. It’s easier than it might seem. We can take simple, practical steps to show our kiddos we’re interested in what they’re doing at school (or prepping for school) and that we’re here to lend a hand, cheer them on, and support them every step of the way.
10 tips to support learning at home
Creating a supportive learning environment at home is a powerful way to foster your child’s love for education. It’s about striking a balance – encouraging curiosity, providing resources, and offering guidance while giving them room to explore independently.
Let’s look at my ten favorite tips to support my son with his learning journey at home.
1. Set up a regular family routine
Crafting a regular family routine is like laying the foundation stones of a house – it provides the structure needed for children’s overall development. Studies have shown that a predictable schedule can help preschoolers and young children feel safe and secure, making them more receptive to children’s learning.
I remember when my little one was starting to get into STEAM projects for kids. Only when we incorporated it into our routine – ‘Tinker Tuesdays’ and ‘Science Sundays’ did he really engage. Seeing his eyes light up as we explored gravity with apples or built a popsicle-stick bridge became the highlight of our week!
Here are a few tips that you can use to help set up a regular family routine to support learning at home:
- Create a daily routine that includes set times for studying, reading, and engaging in educational activities, fostering a sense of structure and responsibility for children.
- Allocate time each day for independent reading or read-aloud sessions as a family. Provide access to a variety of age-appropriate books to foster a love for reading and expand knowledge.
- Integrate children’s learning into everyday activities, such as cooking, gardening, or outings, to reinforce concepts, develop critical thinking skills, and encourage curiosity.
So, if you want to foster a love of learning in your child, start with setting a routine. It’s one of the simplest and most effective tools at your disposal!
2. Provide a place & time for homework
Designating a specific place and time for learning opportunities at home, such as a cozy corner or a little table like we did for our son, Lincoln, can work wonders for your child’s focus and productivity. For Lincoln, this little area became his creativity corner – a special place where he could dive into coloring, building, or other STEAM activities without distractions.
In fact, according to a recent study by the University of California, Irvine, a predictable and organized environment can increase a child’s cognitive skills and academic performance.
It can be difficult to create a dedicated spot in your home for your little ones to learn, but here are some ideas that can help:
- Create a quiet and well-lit study area at home, free from distractions, where your child can focus on homework without interruptions.
- Ensure the study area is equipped with necessary supplies like pens, paper, and reference materials, making it easy for your child to complete assignments efficiently.
- Offer support and guidance when needed, showing interest in your child’s progress and providing assistance while allowing them to work independently, fostering their problem-solving skills.
For your little future scientist or artist, having a space that screams ‘exploration’ can make learning an exciting adventure rather than a chore.
It’s like giving them their personal mini lab or studio, sparking their curiosity and nurturing their STEAM skills. Give it a try – you might be surprised by the wonders it can do!
3. Engage with homework, assignments, and projects
Learning begins at home, and a child will bring the lessons learned at home to the classroom. This is why it’s important for parents to show their little ones the importance of learning while also engaging with them in the homework, assignments, and projects from preschool, daycare, and even Kindergarten classes.
In our family, we’ve seen firsthand the benefits of this involvement. Here are some actions we take to support our son’s education:
- Demonstrate curiosity about our child’s work. Ask open-ended questions to encourage critical thinking and understanding of the subject matter. For example, we work with him to learn programming languages for kids to help him excel in computer science and math.
- Offer support and guidance while allowing your child to tackle problems independently. Encourage problem-solving skills and help them break down complex tasks into manageable steps.
- Acknowledge your child’s efforts and celebrate milestones along the way. Offer praise and encouragement to boost their confidence and motivation.
A recent study by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that one of the crucial elements contributing to a student’s success is the involvement of their parents.
The research highlighted in the report indicates that students with engaged parents are more likely to have regular school attendance, achieve higher grades, and successfully graduate from high school.
You can make the most of your involvement with your little ones by incorporating STEAM activities into your learning regimen at home to make learning opportunities more fun and exciting!
So, grab those building blocks, turn the kitchen into a science lab, and get our kids excited about learning!
4. Ask your little ones about their activities
isn’t it fascinating to peek into the mind of your little one to understand their world, their thoughts, and their curiosities? Not only is it delightful, but research also suggests it’s instrumental in their academic success.
A study by the Department of Education found that parents who ask about their children’s daily activities are more likely to have children who are ready for school and who achieve at higher levels academically.
By asking about their day, you’re indirectly showing interest in their learning journey, and that can be an incredible motivator for a child. It allows them to reflect on what they’ve learned, strengthening their understanding and recall.
Here are some quick tips that you can use to help get the conversation started with your child:
- Ask your child about their day, their favorite activities, and what they learned. Encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings, fostering a deeper understanding of their experiences.
- Set aside dedicated time each day to ask specific questions about schoolwork, hobbies, and interests. This consistent practice helps children feel comfortable discussing their activities and achievements.
- Demonstrate curiosity and active listening when your child talks about their activities. Ask follow-up questions to delve deeper into their experiences, showing them that their interests and accomplishments matter to you.
From personal experience, when my son first started his little adventures in the world of STEAM, I made it a habit to ask him to share one new thing he learned each day. It made him excited to learn more and created a beautiful space for him to ask questions and deepen his understanding of the world around him.
5. Read with your child each day
I love reading to our little one each night before bedtime. Not only does this time help us to connect, but research shows that reading to your little ones is vital to help them to learn how to read.
Reading with your child helps to stimulate their development and leads to improved language skills. In fact, The Ohio State University found that reading to your child each day can help your little ones excel at reading by kindergarten!
I love reading with my son every night before bedtime, and here are some ways I make this time even more meaningful for us both:
- Select age-appropriate books that capture your child’s interest, incorporating a variety of genres, characters, and topics to make reading exciting and enjoyable.
- Set a specific time each night for reading, creating a consistent and calming atmosphere that signals it’s time to unwind and dive into a captivating story together.
- Demonstrate expressive reading by using different voices, pacing, and intonation, allowing your child to absorb proper pronunciation, rhythm, and storytelling techniques.
I remember when my son, fascinated by a story about a space adventure, started asking questions about planets and stars. We explored these through more books, apps, and even a telescope, blending storytime with science and making learning engaging and fun!
6. Limit & monitor TV, gaming, and screen time
Did you know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids ages 2 to 5 should have just one hour of high-quality screen time per day? That’s not a lot, considering the average child clocks up to 7 hours a day glued to a screen!
Now, I’m not saying all screen time is bad.
In fact, some educational shows or apps can be great for learning. My son loves a certain animated dinosaur that teaches science facts! But it’s crucial to limit it, especially for our preschoolers and young children.
My son loves screen time and T.V., and here are some ways I make it easier for Lincoln to limit his screen time throughout the day:
- Set specific time slots for educational screen activities, such as online learning platforms or educational apps, while leaving ample time for offline activities and family interactions.
- Promote engaging hobbies like reading, puzzles, arts and crafts, or outdoor play to provide a healthy balance and stimulate creativity, critical thinking, and physical development.
- Demonstrate responsible screen usage by limiting your own device time and actively participating in non-screen activities, showing your children the importance of a balanced approach to learning and entertainment.
Too much screen time can affect everything from their sleep to their social skills. Plus, every hour in front of the TV or tablet is an hour not spent exploring, playing, and engaging in the kind of STEAM activities that can ignite their curiosity and learning.
7. Set high expectations for your child’s learning goals
Your little ones look to you for guidance and direction, especially when it comes to setting expectations for their educational goals.
Research suggests that children tend to adjust their own academic expectations based on those set by their parents. A study from The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that students whose parents held high expectations were twice as likely to continue with their education.
I’ve always encouraged my son to stretch his boundaries, especially when it came to his fascination with space and animals. I have found it easier to set high expectations without overburdening my son with some quick tips:
- Encourage your child to believe in their ability to learn and improve, emphasizing that effort and perseverance lead to success rather than innate talent.
- Establish a consistent schedule for studying, completing homework, and engaging in educational activities to instill discipline and a sense of responsibility.
- Create a dedicated space for studying, minimize distractions, and offer guidance and assistance when needed, demonstrating your commitment to their academic progress.
This nurturing expectation led him to tackle more advanced science and math topics than most kids his age. Now, he’s creating his own mini rockets and dreams of working at NASA!
8. Be active in your child’s school life
Did you know that children with involved parents or other caregivers earn higher grades and test scores, have better social skills, and show improved behavior, as per a report from the Michigan Alliance For Families?
It can be tough for a busy parent to make time for a child’s school life, but I found some ways to make it easier for me and get the most out of the time:
- Attend parent-teacher conferences and school activities regularly to establish a strong connection with your child’s teachers and stay informed about their progress and any areas that may need attention. Be sure to build partnerships with teachers, and consider joining your local PTA if you have time.
- Engage in regular communication with your child about their school experiences, asking open-ended questions to encourage dialogue and showing genuine interest in their daily activities, challenges, and achievements.
- Explore online resources together, such as visiting libraries, museums, and educational websites, and engage in enriching activities that promote learning beyond the classroom, fostering a love for knowledge and curiosity in your child.
I get a lot of fulfillment by staying active in my son’s school life, and I know that you and your little ones will enjoy the effort too!
9. Utilize community resources
Leveraging community resources is a crucial strategy for parents looking to supplement their child’s STEAM learning journey at home.
According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, students who regularly engage with community resources, like libraries and museums, show higher achievement in reading and science (up to 15-20% in some cases).
Why is this? Well, these community spaces are treasure troves of experiential learning like:
- Attend storytimes, book clubs, and educational workshops that provide access to a wide range of books, resources, and knowledgeable librarians for guidance on age-appropriate materials and learning strategies.
- Take advantage of after-school programs, tutoring services, and workshops offered by community centers, which often provide academic support, extracurricular activities, and specialized assistance based on individual needs.
- Visit museums, galleries, and cultural centers that offer interactive exhibits, workshops, and educational programs designed to stimulate curiosity and foster a love for learning across various subjects.
Plus, participation in community programs and clubs boosts social skills and provides exposure to diverse perspectives, both vital for holistic learning.
So, parents, let’s tap into these community resources – they’re not just educational gold mines. They’re also platforms for our kids to connect, share, and grow.
10. Participate in your child’s educational decisions
The role of parents in shaping a child’s educational path cannot be underestimated. Participating in your child’s educational decisions – whether it’s selecting a school, a learning method, or a curriculum focus like STEAM education is critical.
Why? Because research has consistently demonstrated a strong correlation between parental involvement and academic success.
According to a study from the National Education Association, when parents are involved, students tend to achieve more, regardless of socio-economic status, ethnic/racial background, or parents’ education level.
In the context of STEAM, your involvement becomes even more significant. A Microsoft survey found that 93% of teachers believe that parental encouragement in STEM subjects directly influences a child’s pursuit of these fields. Therefore, your active participation in their educational decisions can truly shape your child’s future in the rapidly evolving STEAM-centric world.
How STEAM can help support learning at home
As we have discussed in previous sections, it’s important to support your child’s educational journey with learning at home.
It can be difficult to think of activities on the fly that will keep your little ones engaged and learning.
Not sure what STEAM stands for? STEAM is an educational way to help your little ones learn fun, real-world problem-solving experiences, fostering natural curiosity and innovative thinking.
It promotes continued learning at home, which is critical for a child’s comprehensive development. In essence, STEAM can transform the learning landscape at home, creating an enjoyable and stimulating environment.
You may wonder how you can use STEAM activities to help your child learn, and here are some ideas that you can use for each aspect of STEAM:
- Science: Encourage your child’s natural curiosity about the world around them with STEAM science projects. Introduce simple experiments that explain basic scientific concepts such as gravity, photosynthesis, or weather patterns. Use questions to provoke thought and stimulate their problem-solving skills. Make it fun by turning observations into a game or a quest.
- Technology: Utilizing age-appropriate technology activities for kids can enhance their learning experience. Teach them how to find reliable information online and to use digital platforms responsibly. Also, introducing coding basics can be exciting and beneficial for their future career paths.
- Engineering: Foster an interest in building and creating with STEAM building activities. Use everyday materials to design and construct simple structures, such as bridges or towers. This encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and the ability to learn from failures. Explain that engineering is all about finding solutions to real-world problems.
- Art: Encourage your children to express their creativity through various forms of STEAM art projects. This could include painting, digital design, music, or dance. Not only does art boost imagination, but it also enhances motor skills, confidence, and emotional expression. Discuss how art is everywhere, from the design of their favorite STEAM toys to the website layout.
- Math: Make math relevant to everyday life by incorporating numerical concepts in cooking, shopping, or planning family activities. Engage them in fun math puzzles and games to make learning more enjoyable with STEAM math. Explain that math is not just about numbers but also patterns, shapes, and logical thinking, showing them its real-world applications.
How parents can support their child’s learning at home
Supporting your child’s learning at home can be a rewarding and enriching journey for both parent and child. Utilizing the comprehensive approach of STEAM, you can transform your home into a vibrant learning space, sparking creativity, innovation, and a love for knowledge.
Remember, it’s not just about academic success but nurturing well-rounded, curious minds. Engage with your child, embrace their curiosity, and make learning a fun, collaborative adventure. Your active participation in their educational journey can make a significant difference, laying a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning and exploration.