By Kirsty Costa, Cool Australia
Research coming out of the USA suggests that most children form an opinion about science by the time they reach 7 years old. Including science in early childhood education is crucial to ensuring that children have positive attitude and interest in science.
Why do children need to be interested in science? At a community level, scientists help us better understand our world. Science involves innovation, research and solutions to major global issues. At an educational level, science assists children to play, ask questions, explore, be creative and problem solve. It also helps them develop other skills like literacy and numeracy. That’s why it is woven into the outcomes for children under the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) eg. ‘children are confident and involved learners’ (Outcome 4).
So how can we, as educators, immerse our children in science education? Here are three great ways:
1. Use everyday moments to explore science.
Many rich opportunities for science occur on a daily basis. Whenever you or a child sees something of interest and wonders about it, stop to observe, reflect, and explore. The occasion may be a bird building a nest or water dropping from a tap. By stopping to observe and reflect, you will give children the opportunity to develop their appreciation and understanding of the world around them. This form of child-led learning will nurture curiosity and an interest in science.
Use questions to bring out the scientist in your children, such as:
What is it doing?
How does it feel?
How are they alike?
How are they different?
How could we…?
Why do you think?
Can you explain that?
2. Plan science activities.
Take everyday experiences and turn them into sensory and play-based learning activities. There are a range of free-to-access science EYLF teaching resources on Cool Australia’s website that provide you with the confidence, knowledge and tools to teach science. These activities explore creating shadows, making clouds and melting ice. There are also mindfulness activities that help children focus their attention on the world around them.
3. Get families involved.
Talk about the importance of science with parents and caregivers. Encourage families to investigate the world with their children through a science lens. This could involve providing simple experiment instructions (like Cool Australia’s Snappy Science fact sheets) that can be done at home. Invite parents and friends of your service to be guest speakers and talk to children about their love of science.
The good news is that we don’t need a lab or special equipment to teach science. For young learners, science is just an extension of their everyday life.
- Science activities – Cool Australia
- Snappy Science Experiment Fact Sheets – Cool Australia
- Learning about the world: Science experiences for young children – National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC)
- Promoting the Development of Scientific Thinking – Earlychildhood News
- Why Kids Fall Behind in Science – The Conversation