The STEAM approach to learning has grown in popularity over recent years. But what does it actually stand for and how does it help to educate our children?
What is STEAM?
According to Susan Riley, an Arts Integration Specialist, "STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue and critical thinking". Put in simpler terms, it is an approach to teaching our children that focuses on five key subject areas. These subject areas are considered to be important because they are areas in which the economy is developing rapidly. Educators believe this approach will better prepare our children for successful working lives.
Originally the approach was referred to as STEM, as the Arts weren't considered to hold such an importance in education. More recently it has been acknowledged that for children to develop key skills such as creativity, imagination, and the ability to express themselves, artistic activities need to be included in education programs.
How can a STEAM approach help our children?
STEAM based activities encourage children to learn through the process, rather than the focus being purely on the outcome of the activity. This is crucial to remember as a parent when we enjoy play based learning with our kids. Try not to focus on the outcome, but instead pay attention to how your child reacts to the process. It is no good your kid simply learning the answers to Mathematical questions if they do not understand how they arrived at the answer. Likewise, it doesn't matter if your toddler's artwork appears to be a complete mess, they will have developed so many skills such as fine motor skills, sensory development and creativity, just by taking part in the art activity.
Another benefit of STEAM based learning is that is enables children to make more real-life connections. Do you remember sitting in Chemistry class thinking 'why on earth do I need to know the periodic table off by heart?!'. The idea now is that children are hands on in their experience of learning, with application to real life situations. For example, they are much more likely to remember chemical reactions through exploring making potions, than they are through learning the periodic table!
What can you do to encourage STEAM based learning at home?
Many of the play based learning activities that you engage in with your kids will actually already be STEAM based activities. To gain the benefits from the style of approach though you need to ensure that the focus is on collaboration, inquiry, the process and also that it is relevant to real-life. The more opportunity you give your child to independently explore Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics, the more they will learn. More importantly, however, the more they will develop a genuine thirst for hands on learning and application.
We hope this information helps you to gain a better understanding of the STEAM approach. Stay tuned throughout the rest of the month for some great STEAM based activity recommendations!
Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.
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