For many years, scientists and educators repeated that early literacy is key to a child's development, inducing a powerful movement in this field. Parents have received plenty of information on how they can foster the language abilities of their young kids, in particular by reading and singing and playing with them. This was a really positive revolution, which must continue. But this is only half of it because early STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills are as vital as early literacy skills.

By nature, young kids are curious and eager to explore their environment; they are thereby excellent STEM learners. One big problem is that many parents and educators tend to greatly underestimate kids' capabilities in such matters. Another issue is that, unlike literacy materials, the resources available to boost early STEM abilities are scarce. So, what should parents do? They do not need to buy expensive toys and books and electronic devices, nor do they need to have degrees in STEM to teach their kids about the matter.

There are a multitude of simple opportunities in everyday life to develop and stimulate your kids' STEM skills. Putting the five following measures into practice would certainly be a good start.

  1. Encourage your kids to notice things around them.

  2. Encourage your kids to describe things they see and do.

  3. Ask your kids "what" rather than "why" questions.

  4. Encourage your kids to count using one-to-one correspondence.

  5. Encourage your kids to think about space around them.

Picture: Mathematics-Physics Salon - Globusuhr (Wikipedia, w/Effects)