Report urges educators to integrate STEM in pre-K

Dive Brief:

  • A new report funded by the National Science Foundation attempts to offer some possible solutions for better integrating STEM practices, tools and lessons into early childhood education, finding that both teachers and parents are extremely important in helping to develop young students’ STEM knowledge, according to eSchool News.
  • Parents and educators both reported that they had interest in helping students develop their STEM education, but felt they needed more knowledge and support to do so, with teachers requiring more training and professional development to be able to adequately deliver STEM skills.
  • The report advised that parents be engaged as students’ biggest guides to learning STEM, as well as a need to reconsider how STEM research is done and to offer more “institutional support” for teachers hoping to add STEM to early childhood ed.

Dive Insight:

Part of the issue facing the integration of STEM into pre-K instruction is one of access. Early childhood education is by no means available for everyone throughout the country, and adding STEM technology and tools into that equation could create greater gaps in digital understanding and equity. Without a broader investment into increasing the availability of early childhood education along with STEM presence in those programs, the STEM gap could mirror the gap facing students who do have access to pre-K and those who do not. A 2014 Brookings Institution study found that evidence showed “conclusively that early childhood education can improve school readiness, and with larger effects for disadvantaged children.” The introduction of STEM learning could have an additional positive impact.

Also, a greater emphasis on STEM and digital literacy early in a child’s education could boast economic benefits and savings for schools attempting to instill digital skills later on in a child’s education. A reported 57% of children under the age of eight are using educational apps, and despite digital gap concerns, the number of young children with an affinity for and skill with new tech far exceeds previous generations. Many have likely marveled at the way in which a four-year-old can utilize an IPad with the skill of someone much older.

Getting these tools into the hands of students earlier, even if it's to let them explore and experiment with games and fun activities, will likely make it easier later, when schools ask students to utilize those tools for their own educational enrichment.

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Filed Under: K12 Technology
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