The Impact of STEAM in Your Child’s Development
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
Traditionally, these subjects are taught separately, whereas STEAM activities connect them, making it one holistic learning experience and showing children how various fields overlap and influence each other – as they do in real life.
STEAM learning happens naturally throughout a child’s day as they play, explore, and try new things. It can include activities like filling and emptying containers and building a house from cardboard boxes, to pouring liquids and mixing paints to create new colours.
When children have the opportunity to investigate the world around them in this way, they experiment and come up with theories, and research shows there is a positive relationship between early STEAM experiences and future success in school.
What are the benefits of STEAM learning?
It cultivates curiosity
Curiosity is the driving force behind learning, and STEAM activities are rich with opportunities to explore and discover. STEAM activities often present open-ended challenges and questions, so children are encouraged to explore and experiment without a predetermined outcome.
It makes learning engaging
Traditional classroom learning can sometimes feel disconnected from the real world, leading to children becoming uninterested. STEAM education bridges this gap by making learning engaging and relevant, as children do activities such as hands-on experiments or DIY projects. These experiences not only make learning fun, but also give children a sense of accomplishment.
It encourages critical thinking
STEAM learning involves analysing and evaluating information to solve complex problems. The critical thinking skills children learn when doing STEAM activities are invaluable, teaching them to approach challenges with confidence and creativity.
It promotes problem solving
Children are naturally motivated to solve problems, and being able to identify problems and come up with solutions are important skills for life. STEAM activities immerse children in problem solving scenarios from an early age, for example, creating a marble run, or building a tall but stable structure from building blocks. As children instinctively want to find solutions, these activities drive their engagement and learning.
It teaches to learn from mistakes
STEAM activities teach children to see failure as a valuable learning opportunity. When things don’t go as planned, children will think about what went wrong and come up with alternative solutions. The resilience they develop from experiences like this will help them when they face challenges in the future.
It shows real world relevance
STEAM activities often relate to real-world issues. When children see the relevance of what they’re learning and how it applies to everyday life, they will naturally become more interested and engaged.
Let’s take a look at each of the STEAM areas, with activity and toy suggestions…
Children are natural scientists and are constantly trying to understand how the world works by observing, asking questions, making predictions, and experimenting. The kitchen is a treasure trove of scientific wonders waiting to be discovered. Conduct simple experiments with your child such as making a volcano with baking soda and vinegar or growing crystals from sugar or salt solutions. The GALT Giant Science Lab is a fun packed science set that will encourage early STEAM learning and scientific thinking. Carrying out experiments not only teaches children chemistry basics, but also helps them grow a love of experimentation and observation.
In this context, technology isn’t just mobile phones, televisions, and computers, it’s also simple tools such as ramps, levers, wheels, pulleys, cogs. Playing with resources like this teaches children about cause and effect and supports their cognitive development. For older children, dismantling old electronic devices (with supervision) to explore the components inside brings a real life element to their learning. Introduce your child to the world of coding by making their own interactive stories, games, and animations on easy to use websites like Scratch or Tynker, or encourage them to play with toys like Botley The Coding Robot to introduce them to coding without the need for a screen.
Engineering is applying science, technology, and mathematics to solving problems, and helps us to understand how and why things work. For children, it includes designing, crafting, building and using a variety of different materials. When they are making a den from pillows and sheets at home or from fallen branches in the woods, they are engineering. When they work out that they need to add support under a bridge they are building from blocks, they are solving structural problems. There are many fun resources to help support children in this area, such as GraviTrax PRO Vertical Starter Set or Playground Engineering & Design Building Set.
A creative mindset is crucial for STEAM subjects. Scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and technology developers all need creativity to solve problems. Art encourages children to visualise, design, and communicate their ideas, allowing them to express how they feel and what they know, even before they can read or write. Artie 3000 uses creativity to engage children in the concepts of coding and programming as they work out how to make the robot draw different patterns and shapes.
Mathematics isn’t just about counting and numeracy, it also involves concepts such as shape, size, space, measurement, sequences, and patterns. Many activities involve mathematics – cooking involves measurements and fractions, building structures with blocks or Lego introduces geometry and spatial concepts, art projects can incorporate symmetry and shapes. These hands-on experiences not only make mathematics enjoyable, they also show children that it’s not just a subject to learn at school, but a practical tool they can use in many different aspects of their lives. Geomag Magicube Maths Building set gives children a hands-on and practical way of understanding sums, allowing them to visualise numbers and their sequences as they build different shapes and 3D structures with magnetic blocks.
STEAM learning is designed to really engage children and their sense of wonder, encouraging them to ask “why?” and “how?” while providing the tools and opportunities to find answers. It helps them to be successful at school, develop essential life skills, and, most importantly, nurtures a lifelong love for learning and an eagerness to explore the world around them.