Updated: May 31
Have you heard of the benefits of STEM and are wondering how you can get your child interested and involved? There are three main areas to start with: introducing STEM at home, getting them involved with STEM at school, and finding extracurricular activities and programs for your child to get involved with!
How Can I Introduce STEM At Home?
Is your child young and just beginning to explore topics like STEM? Is your child older but you want to introduce them to STEM so they know all of their options because picking a college major or career is around the corner? The first place to start is introducing STEM at home! There are three important things to remember when introducing STEM to your child.
One of the most important traits to have when exploring STEM is curiosity! It’s what has led scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to experiment and explore throughout history. It is important to foster your child’s curiosity and allow them to ask questions. When possible, find ways to allow your child to answer their own questions. Not only does this make your child feel validated in their curiosity, and like their questions aren’t a burden, but it also gives them agency and builds confidence.
Building confidence is a great way to keep your child interested and engaged! A field like STEM can sometimes be discouraging when your child feels that they have more questions than answers, but focusing on building their confidence is a great way to keep them motivated. At any age, feeling confused can lead to frustration, but especially for children who are just starting to learn about something new. Keeping your child’s confidence up in the face of frustration is an important way to keep them encouraged!
Let Them Choose
There are so many areas of study and interest when it comes to STEM so something that is so important when trying to engage your child is to let them choose what they’re interested in! If they’re just starting out and aren’t sure what they like yet, present them with a few options of activities in different areas of STEM to choose from! Children aren’t often given control over their education so being able to choose which areas of STEM they want to explore is a great way to get them engaged!
How Can I Get My Child Involved With STEM At School?
If your child is ready to start getting more involved with STEM at school but you both aren’t sure what your options are, we have a few ideas of where you can start!
Talk To Teachers About Incorporating More STEM
Depending on what grade your child is in will dictate which teachers you will likely want to reach out to. If your child is younger and only has one primary teacher, they are great to reach out to. Obviously, your child’s teacher won’t be able to give you a full STEM curriculum to work on with your child, but they might have knowledge of resources that would be great to add to your STEM repertoire.
Join Clubs That Focus On STEM Or Independent Study
If your child is older they may have more clubs and courses available to them in STEM at their school. Take a look at the after-school clubs your child’s school offers. Even if there isn’t a club that fits your child’s exact niche interest, getting involved with a club that tackles a similar topic can help them get acquainted with staff that might be able to offer alternate resource and activity ideas. If your child is not able to participate in after-school clubs but their school offers an independent study, this would be a great opportunity for them to start focusing on what in STEM they are the most passionate about!
Where Can I Find Extracurricular STEM Activities?
Have you introduced STEM at home, piqued your child’s interest, and now want to find STEM activities and programs that your child can get involved with outside of school? We know of two great places to start!
Visit Your Local Libraries
Does your child’s school not have STEM resources for their grade level? Do they have nothing in their area of interest? Is your child homeschooled? If any of these are the case a great place to start is checking out your local library! Most public libraries will have STEM-related resources including books, manipulatives, STEM kits, and STEM events! If you want to take the next step in getting your child involved with STEM but can’t at school, local libraries are a great resource!
Check Out Your Local Nonprofits
Another great resource for STEM programming are your local non profits! Police Activities Leagues, boys and girls clubs etc. are great places to find STEM activities for your child. Look for organizations that make bettering the community and providing educational resources a part of their mission. These organizations will give your child a chance to socialize with peers in their community while participating in activities that pique their interest. Even if the organizations in your area don’t offer specific STEM activities and programming, there is a chance that they will have connections to other organizations that do and can offer a helping hand in trying to find programs and activities for your child!
Where Can I Find STEM Programs Near Me?
If you are in South Jersey then you’re in luck! The Police Activities League of Egg Harbor Township and Atlantic County offers a variety of STEM workshops and clubs throughout the year if your child is interested in learning and experimenting without the pressure or commitment of a competitive team! Some of the programs we offer include Buddy's Garage which is our small motor and automotive repair club and Buddy's Stargazer Club for your budding astronomer who wants to look through telescopes and learn about space! For your children that are interested in competing, PAL has our own competitive robotics team and hosts STEM competitions throughout the year. With summer right around the corner we also offer STEM summer camps for children in 1st through 12th grade! If you’re interested in learning more about our STEM programs and summer camps, get in touch with us!