Parenting is no small feat. Whether it’s about the early days and sleepless nights or their first steps into formal education, parenting can be both difficult and rewarding. One aspect of informal education which parents often relegate to school has to do with science-based fields. Physics and chemistry are often outside of the parents’ wheelhouse, so much so that they are afraid of passing the wrong information to their children.
However, a small child will never ask you to name Newton’s Laws or list Periodic Table elements off the top of your head. You can significantly improve your child’s scientific curiosity and encourage their further development through simple, outside-the-classroom activities. With that, let’s discuss how you can engage your child (or kids) to be more interested and familiar with basic scientific principles.
#1 No Question is Taboo
First thing’s first – your child will likely not be aware of what exactly they’re asking you. Remember back to when your child asked you where kids come from? You didn’t scold it or frown then, so why start now? Scientific questions coming from children will always be basic and refer to topics such as gravity, time, mass, etc.
These questions are simple but devilishly difficult to explain without delving into hard facts and research. Instead of waving questions off and answering with “you’ll learn that in school,” you can opt for the following tips.
#2 Use Practical Examples for Every Explanation
As humans, we are inherently practical creatures that memorize things through physical motion. You can easily explain basic scientific principles to your child with practical examples of why it is that something is happening. For example, the flow of time can be explained by baking a cake together. For French second language learners, you can easily write down the ingredients in French. This way, your child can both learn more about science and their second language.
Gravity can be explained through the flow of water as you water your garden outside. These examples might seem rudimentary to an adult mind, but the child will be amazed by their logic. As such, they will be very likely to remember your examples long after their science teachers have provided them with a raw theoretical thesis.
If these ideas are not enough, the best way to learn is through a book. Through the International Children’s Digital Library, you will be able to find French books for all your scientific needs. Whether you are looking for science-based books to read to your kids or books for them to read themselves, this is the perfect place. You can browse through thousands of educational books and pick the ones best suited to your child’s learning needs.
#3 Prepare to “Get Dirty”
Depending on your child’s age, you might want to strap in when it comes to keeping things clean during scientific exploration. Science-based activities in and around your house will naturally require you to use supplies such as paper, wood, plastic, dirt, water, and other elemental items.
If you have a yard and a sandbox reserved for playtime, it might be a good idea to limit your activities to that spot. However, don’t discourage your child from getting dirty and playing around with the items you prepared. Yes, you might need to clean a wall or gather dirty from the floor after – however, it will be worth the effort tenfold.
A great idea for those looking to include a language-based activity is to find a YouTube tutorial for the project that offers subtitles. Through that, your child will know which steps to follow and also learn new words and phrases in their second language. A great channel to follow is Discovery Science France. There you can find interesting videos for kids of all ages.
#4 Teach them to Write Things Down
Writing might be problematic if your child is still in preschool. However, you can still inspire them to “take notes” by showing them how adults do it. Grab a pen and paper, or even an old notebook, and take short notes on what you’re doing.
Avoid scientific equations and stick to less-demanding writing – for example, showing them how atoms look like can be a great visual exercise. It’s also a great idea to create themed flashcards with different papers and markers to take important scientific notes with your child. A little role-play never hurt anyone. Letting your child be a scientist for an hour or two will greatly benefit their curiosity.
#5 Learn how to Use Smart Devices Properly Together
At this point, it’s nigh impossible to avoid digital devices such as smartphones and tablets during a child’s formative years. However, you can circumvent their negative influence by showing them how smart devices can indeed be helpful for scientific research.
Smart devices can become an amazing scientific entryway for your child’s learning and development – teach them to use them to find inspiration for further research. Start small and teach your child about websites such as Wikipedia and Google when it comes to searching for answers. Show them how to look for useful resources online and how to avoid links that are obviously malicious and not worth the trouble.
In addition to these, websites such as Hello-World are also a great asset when teaching a child how to use a smart device. By offering them more than 700 free French games and activities, they will spend time on their smart devices productively.
Duolingo is another great app you can introduce them to if they are able to read by themselves. The exercises included will be fun and colorful and will help them practice their French in a very rewarding way. This way, they will come to find that technology can also equal education and fun.
#6 Invite their Friends and Group Up
Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, you should aim to facilitate as much group learning as possible. Learning about scientific terms and principles in groups will allow children to ask more questions than they would otherwise.
Likewise, you can give them group tasks that involve physical or mental cooperation to manifest certain scientific principles in real life. Jogging and exercise can act as a great tool for learning about friction and mass, while swimming can teach them about gravity and water density. Most importantly, it will encourage your child, and others like it to ask questions aloud whenever they want an answer to a pressing scientific curiosity.
#7 Question your Child’s Conclusions
Finally, you should be a mentor to your child, not just a formal teacher or a parent. Mentorship involves coaching and feedback, which is essential for a child’s continued growth and self-awareness. Once you are certain that your child is onto a correct conclusion, prod them about it. Ask them what they think about that chemical principle or how a certain law of physics might affect them from now on.
You can reward your child based on the type of scientific discussion you just had – lemonade can be the reward for understanding food acidity. Give your child as much food for thought as possible, regardless of your own scientific background. As such, we only need to nudge the child in the right direction – their curiosity will do the rest when it comes to scientific discovery.
From the Cradle (Conclusion)
Every child is unique in regards to their thought process and interest in science outside the classroom. Some kids might gravitate toward STEM while others might find art, music, or sports more appealing. If your child expresses interest in Physics, Math, or Chemistry at an early age, great! However, learn to be a compass to your child and don’t bottleneck it into something they might not be interested in. In the end, all we can do is help children fulfill their potential by cheering them on and supporting them as they themselves see fit.
Kristin Savage, Contributing Writer and Editor at Subjecto