Helping Your Child Learn
Young children ask their parents hundreds of questions. In search of answers, you can use science to both enlighten and delight.
As parents, you must prepare your children for a world vastly
different from the one in which you grew up. In the next century,
this country will need citizens with more training in science and
technology than most of us had in school. Even children who don't
want to be scientists, engineers, or computer technicians will need
science to cope with their rapidly changing environment.
What Is Science?
Science is not just a collection of facts. Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov describes science as "a way of thinking," a way to look at the world. Science involves trial and error - trying, failing, and trying again. Science does not provide all the answers. It requires us to be skeptical so that our scientific "conclusions"' can be modified or changed as we make new discoveries. Science includes:
Scientific knowledge is cumulative, so children need to start learning early - at home. Many of us assume that children will learn all the science they need at school. The fact is that most children, particularly in elementary school, are taught very little science.
How Can Parents Help
As a parent, you don't have to have a strong background in science to help your children learn science. What's far more important is having a positive attitude about science. Every day can be filled with opportunities to learn science - without expensive equipment or books. Children can be easily introduced to the natural world and encouraged to observe what goes on around them.
Together you and your children can:
Questioning and Listening
We should encourage our children to ask questions. If you can't answer all of your children's questions, that's all right - no one has all the answers, even scientists. And children don't need lengthy, detailed answers to all of their questions. You can propose answers, test them out, and check them with someone else. The library, or even the dictionary, can help answer questions.
Also encourage your children to tell you their ideas and listen to their explanations. Being listened to will help them to gain confidence in their thinking and to develop their skills and interest in science. Listening helps you to determine just what children know and don't know. It also helps your child figure out what he or she knows.
Children Have Their Own
Children develop their own ideas about the physical world, ideas that reflect their special perspectives. Children's experiences help them form their ideas, and these often don't match current science knowledge. You need to allow your children to ask questions and make mistakes without feeling "stupid."
Hands-On Works Best
Children learn science best and understand scientific ideas better if they are able to investigate and experiment. Hands-on science can also help children think critically and gain confidence in their own abilities to solve problems. Science teachers explain it this way: What engages very young children? Things they can see, touch, manipulate, modify; situations that allow them to figure out what happens - in short, events and puzzles that they can investigate, which is the very stuff of science.
Less Is More
It's tempting to try to teach your children just a little about many different subjects. While youngsters can't possibly learn everything about science, they do need and will want to learn many facts. But the best way to help them learn to think scientifically is to introduce them to just a few topics in depth.
Finding The Right Activity For
Different children have different interests and need different science projects. Fortunately, all types of children can find plenty of projects that are fun.
Knowing your child is the best way to find suitable activities.
Here are some tips:
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Science, contact the U.S. Government Printing Office Order
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