Last week the White House and the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Service hosted an event that focused on the importance of promoting active science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning for the country’s youngest children (birth through third grade).
Over 200 private & public sector organizations, including Couragion, committed to supporting the White House’s #STEMstartsEarly initiative to bring STEM content to young children and to boost the number of underrepresented in STEM. To support the initiative, the administration announced new steps it is taking to provide for early active STEM learning. Those steps are outlined in the White House’s press release and include research grants, resources for families, policy statements, and development of learning activities.
We expressed our commitment to this initiative as we believe career exploration can start as early as pre-school. Here are a few ideas for helping young children begin to think about jobs and careers:
- Help your child understand how specific jobs make possible the things they enjoy. For example, while they are having fun on a climbing structure at a park, point out that an engineer designed the park equipment and made sure that it was both safe and fun to use.
- Take your child to work. Formal events such as ‘Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ (which happens this Thursday) are likely too long and formal for a young child. But that doesn’t preclude you from bringing your child to work for an hour or two. During their visit you can show them your work environment and maybe even demonstrate a simple, small task that you do at work.
- Use Google Image searches to show your child what various work locations look like from a factory to an office to an outdoors environment. Talk about the fact that different people enjoy different workplace environments and ask them which one they prefer and what they like about it.
- Visit a factory that makes something your child enjoys. For example, I have taken my daughters to a local candy maker. The girls were able to see the various steps in the candy making process but more importantly they were able to see firsthand the number of jobs it takes to formulate, mix, shape, and package each piece of candy. If you don’t have a factory in your area, you can show them a ‘How It’s Made’ video. With topics ranging from marshmallow cookies to helicopters to apple juice, you can quickly find a product that aligns to one of your child’s passions.
Have you had success in helping young kids learn about careers? If so, we would love to hear about your approach (info at Couragion.com). And don’t forget to check out the #STEMstartsEarly resources that help kids aged birth to third grade learn about STEM. There are resources for families and teachers on the topic of ‘Let's Talk, Read and Sing About STEM’.