Many preschool teachers seem to lack the skills, knowledge and confidence to effectively teach science. According to a study by Michigan State University (MSU) researchers, while preschool instructors self-reported high ability and enjoyment for literacy, they reported a much worse opinion of their own abilities for science and math.

While 99% of early childhood educators engaged in literacy instruction three to four times a week, this figure fell to 75% in math, and even to 42% in science. "It seems the preschool teachers in our study were more confident of their ability in literacy than in science - likely creating a gap between children's literacy development and science skills," said Hope Gerde, associate professor in MSU's Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and lead author of the study.

The MSU researchers studied 67 Head Start classrooms of kids aged 3 to 5 years old, the period when students begin developing both their scientific thinking and science skills. Gerde said that preschool teachers may struggle with science due to lack of quality training and preparation, or an aversion to science. A crucial point: the study found that only educators with good knowledge and skills for SCIENCE - not math or literacy - provided quality scientific materials, opportunities and experiences for the kids.

Picture: Are preschool teachers failing their students in science? (Michigan State University)