What is STEM, and why is it important to your child’s education?

Even though the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) continue to grow across the workforce, many industries struggle to find qualified applicants. To help address this trend, STEM education programs integrate the four disciplines for real-life applications beyond the classroom. It’s just one of the many ways our country’s education landscape is changing.

How is STEM used in education?

A broad range of STEM courses is offered to students as early as 6th grade and continues throughout high school. Through project-based learning—or class projects that mimic the real working world—STEM curriculums incorporate an interdisciplinary learning approach in all subjects at every step of your child’s educational journey. Each part of the curriculum is developed to play an essential role in the education experience and constantly changes as the job market changes.

When to Get Children Involved in STEM Subjects

A Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education report, or CADRE, suggests that STEM subjects be part of a student’s education as early as possible. The report also notes that learning STEM subjects should be treated with the same level of importance as literacy skills. Research done by the National Science Foundation supports this report, too, pointing out that STEM disciplines play a fundamental role in setting the foundations for future learning.

STEM Facilitates Language Skills

STEM activities and education play a key role in developing language skills. For example, as kids read books about science, they spark new ideas of discussion around STEM topics. What they’ve read will lead to more curiosity, investigation, and discovery of scientific topics. Encourage your children to talk about their ideas, hypotheses, and results to continue to develop literacy and comprehension skills.

STEM Encourages Independent and Collaborative Learning

STEM education allows children to develop communication and problem-solving skills, especially when actively encouraged to talk and write about their ideas and observations. This rich educational environment also enables young children to develop concepts through investigative and explorative means.

Young children also benefit from STEM learning because they are generally naturally curious and want to explore and make sense of themselves and the environment in which they live. What’s more, even young children who are non-native speakers and are still learning the English language can benefit from STEM education. This is because they can participate in scientific explorations that do not demand a broad vocabulary.

Learning Through Discovery

Parents can ensure that their children are exposed to STEM at home by encouraging independent thinking and making connections between their experiences at school and at home.

For instance, asking a child what they learned in their science class that day or week will help to consolidate that learning experience as they explain and discuss the topic. Parents can then encourage their children to undertake a mini project relating to the topic at home to encourage independent thinking. This will show the child that STEM learning isn’t confined to the classroom.

Be sure your children receive all the benefits of STEM education at their school and at home. If you’re unhappy with your child’s current school curriculum, consider an alternative. Online learning from home could benefit your family.

What STEM Means in the Real World

The International Society of Automation says students from other countries like China, Japan, and Russia outperform U.S. students in science in math. And when students struggle in those areas, their interest in STEM decreases.

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of STEM jobs is expected to rise by more than 10% over the next ten years. The median annual wage for those jobs is more than $95,000. High-paying career fields include registered nurses, automotive technicians, and plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters.

Interested in learning more about getting your child involved in STEM subjects through online learning? You can find more information by heading to K12’s STEM education page.

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