23 Mar Helping Your Child To Love Science
Children are naturally inquisitive creatures who are curious about the world around them. Without much knowledge, pretty much everything appears abstract to them. This allows them to go into any situation without presumptions and to intuitively grasp ideas. Taking a step back, we could call this “playing”.
Science Equals Playtime
Playtime is synonymous with children, being an intricate part of everyone’s childhood. Research has shown that play is critical to the development of children as it allows them to develop their cognitive ability and to express their ideas. They learn while playing by pushing the boundaries of what they know and testing their new ideas.
Now alter the above scenario by swapping out the child for an adult, and what you have is “science”. Science is all about people coming up with ideas based on intuitive understanding or small amounts of evidence and testing out these new ideas. Once the results are analysed and a cause derived, a new scientific theory emerges.
Losing the Love for Play
Children are actually involved in science each time they play. Why then do children feel incapable of or reluctant to learn “science”? Two common reasons are:
- As children grow up, they lose their interest to explore and test out their ideas. Instead, they fall into a trap of readily accepting information and falling back on what they already know.
- The perceived consequences for “failure” during playtime are largely negligible. The same cannot be said for when it comes to a school test or a job task.
Due to these reasons, many teenagers become fearful of science, believing it to be beyond their capability. Furthermore, as we grow older, play is frown upon while “schoolwork” is encouraged. Yet, our perception of schoolwork often revolves around heavy memorization and repetition. While not lacking in value, such perceptions strip the value of play and therefore inquisitiveness needed for science.
Simply put, if you do not encourage a curiosity to test and learn within your child, then they certainly will not find science interesting. On the contrary, science will be degraded to a heavy bunch of text and formulas to be memorised and thrown back out during school examinations.
Retaining the Love for Play
How then can parents help children to retain their love for play? Thankfully, the answer to this question is neither complex nor difficult to achieve.
For starters, an effort to expose your child to scientific phenomena should be made. For example, your child may learn from their textbooks about water’s ability to freeze or boil. However, seeing it and to some extent feeling the change in temperature helps them to conceptualise and make sense of the changes.
It is the wonder and fascination from witnessing or producing scientific phenomena that you should aim to inspire in your child.
Another aspect that parents can help in is encouraging children to experiment rather than to seek direct answers. If science is built on experiments, then children should be encouraged to continue playing with their environment. Rather than telling a child what a magnet is and how it interacts with their environment, give them a pair of magnets and guide them in playing. In this way, they get to feel the full wonder of see magnets attract, repel, spin and even stick to surfaces.
The Importance of Being Attached to Science from a Young Age
Science teaches your child many skills beyond that of scoring in their academic exams. These include critical thinking, questioning, compartmentalising and confidence.
Science requires you to thoroughly and objectively evaluate information. Were the results from your first experiment a fluke or were they repeatable? What variables or forces were at work during the experiment? The logical approach taken in science cultivates critical thinking in your child, helping them to identify the most important factors and remedying the root causes.
The first thing that your child would learn in scientific experiments is the formation of hypotheses and the valid methods of testing them with experiments. While your child may not apply the same level of rigour to any daily task, it does serve to put them in a mindset for questioning. Rather than freely accepting what is known about the world, they will grow up questioning old knowledge.
Many scientific concepts appear endlessly vast and complicated. For students that are newly introduced to the concept, they might feel lost and frustrated. It is at times like this that compartmentalisation helps. Rather than tackling the entire concept as a whole, breaking it down to its most fundamental units allows learners to slowly grasp the key parts of the concept.
Every child has aspirations for their future. Some wish to be astronauts while others wants to be fire fighters. Whatever it is, learning scientific topics related to these roles gives children the confidence that they are moving in the right direction. This is important since all jobs involve science in one way or another.
For example, even if your child aspires to be a teacher who teaches a non-science subject, understanding the psychology behind how students learn could allow them to devise more engaging lessons. Furthermore, a scientific mindset also allows them to determine the various factors that are holding back their students while also ideating solutions to these problems.
It is truly important to inculcate a level of appreciation and love for science in your child. Rather than forcing them to strictly memorise and reproduce school concepts, having them exposed to alternative forms of learning would create a better mindset. This also benefits them during larger exams such as the PSLE, which has multiple application-based questions.
If your child is struggling with PSLE science syllabus, we suggest brining them to Primary 6 science tuition classes. With more time and attention, your child will be able to explore concepts more thoroughly at their own pace. In turn, this could help them, to make sense of the different scientific concepts, and to readily apply them.
Find out about our primary school tuition Singapore classes today!