It's final! I've decided to host my Online Science Class for Preschoolers next month beginning on June 6th! I am so extremely excited! I will be posting four science lessons during the weeks of June 6, June 13, and June 27. The lessons will be targeted at four-year olds, but will be easily adaptable for children 2-6. I will be doing the lessons with 4- and 2- year olds personally. If you don't have preschoolers or toddlers, please don't get scared away by the preponderance of preschool-aged material in June!! I still love ya'! The week of June 20 will be for making up any missed lessons and visiting a science museum.
Since I am already a little obsessed, I decided to post a short article each Monday related to the upcoming class. Today, I wanted to talk about Science and Preschoolers/Toddlers.
Children are natural scientists. They love to explore and experiment. Today, within about two minutes, I "caught" a four-year old experimenting with milk and cheese, a two-year old experimenting with scissors and different textures, and a one-year old experimenting with toy screwdriver and a five-gallon bucket.
Children are driven to learn everything they can about their world. They want to know what happens and why. Typical four-year olds can ask "Why?" 300 times in one day!
Science education for young children should do three things. It should:
- Encourage their natural curiosity
- Engage them in the learning process, and
- Build frameworks for future education.
Engaging children's natural curiosity is easy--they are interested in so very many things! Science doesn't have to be complicated, but it should answer some of the questions they have about the world around them. It should be fun and exciting!
The learning process is simple. Kids become familiar with their surroundings as they experience them. When they learn something new, they relate it to something they already know. If their little brains can't fit the new information into a category they already have, they build a new framework to store the new material. Building a new framework means they need to experience it personally and find some way to relate it to other information they do know. When I first introduced my daughter to sea sponges (a new concept to her), she held lots of sponges, compared them to cleaning sponges, painted with the sponges, transferred water with the sponges, saw pictures of sponges in the ocean, watched movie clips with sponges in them, and made her own ocean representations complete with sponges. She can tell you a lot about a sponges now.
Young children have a lot of learning ahead of them! When they learn science, their confidence should grow and they should practice building new frameworks. They should be introduced to a variety of things in a safe, comfortable way. They should learn new words and new ways to use old words. They should practice things like measuring, predicting, sorting, and observing. Very importantly, they should move at their own pace. When they move at their own pace they gain the confidence and skills they need to keep learning.