Over the last decade, STEAM has gained significant momentum in the education field, attracting the attention of students, policymakers, and educators alike. Many parents have asked us what STEAM is, what it has to do with their pre-schooler and why it is so important to integrate into early childhood education.
What is it?
Put simply, STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. STEAM education is holistic in that there is no one method of inquiry for tackling these subjects; all require creative processes and persistent investigation. STEAM seeks to blur the lines between all these subjects to foster interdisciplinary knowledge.
Why is it important?
In today’s world, it is not enough to merely equip children with academic knowledge confined to the four walls of a classroom. The development of technology and innovation in the 21st century requires that children are able to adapt to the changing needs of the world. The best way to prepare our children, according to President of Enterra Solutions Stephen F. DeAngelis, is to integrate holistic STEAM programs into your child’s early education, as this “prepares students for life, regardless of the profession they choose to follow.”
Why should it be implemented in early childhood education?
It develops a solid foundation of pre-existing skills:
To many parents’ surprise, children actually have the ability to learn STEAM skills even during preschool ages. In one study, researchers showed one-year old children a car hovering in mid-air. These toddlers often dropped the car to explore the concept of gravity. The STEAM framework builds on these skills that children already have during early development. Using each of the five subjects, STEAM helps to nurture problem-solving, critical thinking, awareness of scientific and mathematical ideas and basic executive functioning.
It develops transferable skills:
In contrast to traditional learning, STEAM education integrates all the subjects together to foster inter-disciplinary knowledge and experiential learning. As a result, children gain transferable skills that they can later employ throughout multiple areas of their lives. They also gain crucial life skills early in their lives, such as perseverance, creativity and working as a team.
It promotes child-centred learning:
STEAM builds on preschool children’s innate eagerness to explore by exposing them to novel objects and ideas, making the process of learning both effective and enjoyable. For example, if a class of children were interested in learning about nature and how things grow, a teacher could support this by having the children plant, grow, nurture and be responsible for their very own plants. Children could measure the growth of their plants and observe the factors that aid their growth. This is a STEAM process of investigation, observation and measurement.
It encourages hands-on learning:
STEAM can be classed as a form of inquiry-based learning. This means children are often active in their learning and are not just taught what to learn, but how to learn, how to find solutions and how to test out new ideas. With hands-on learning, children can tackle spatial awareness and geometry skills through exploring size, colours, patterns and sequencing, which can all be explored in science, maths or art. A recent study found significant differences between a group of students who took STEAM programs and a group of students who took science textbook-based programs. Those in the STEAM group had significantly improved levels of scientific creativity after taking the course, including greater verbal and figural creativity.
We understand the importance of STEAM education for your child’s learning journey. We also understand the importance of bilingualism in the modern world, and its significance in nurturing children with an open view of the world. We therefore incorporate STEAM all year round in our preschools and Kindergartens using the instructional medium of Chinese Mandarin. Our bilingual English and Chinese Mandarin immersion summer camps also focus on STEAM activities and dual-language acquisition. For more information, click here.