By Christi Schwalk, First Grade Teacher
What type of learning is open ended, engaging, creative and mimics real world problems? STEAM! It is comprised of five disciplines used collaboratively: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. The number of careers involving STEAM is growing rapidly in our country so preparing students today for the STEAM jobs of tomorrow is essential. Activities that focus on STEAM help children learn through trial and error, experimenting and problem solving. STEAM begins at home by pointing out how and why things in our everyday lives work. An acorn falls? It fell due to gravity. Families can also focus on activities that focus on one of the five disciplines of STEAM. Gardening, building forts, mixing paint colors, filling different sized containers and making a ramp to race play cars are a few examples. Parents can also encourage problem solving by asking questions such as, “What are you working on?” “What do you think will happen?” and “What else could you try?” Educators promote STEAM learning into the classroom by providing open-ended questions and allowing students the time and materials to solve them. The Christ School’s first graders chose an animal to research. In addition, they were asked to create a structure that would provide shade for their animal. Using their research about the animal’s characteristics and habitat, the students designed, measured, built, experimented, revised and re-built their structures until they provided shade for a clay replica of their animal. When STEAM education is in place, children learn to question like a scientist, design like a technologist, build like an engineer, create like an artist, and deduce like a mathematician!
By Aaron Farrant, Head of School, The Christ School
At The Christ School we are committed to developing great learners. One of the primary attributes of great learners is that they have a growth mindset. So many people are quick to say they cannot do something or they lack the natural innate ability to be successful in different areas of their lives. As an educator, I see this in children all the time. Children will say they aren’t smart, or they “just aren’t good at math”. The truth is no one knows what a child can accomplish with the proper training, strategies, and effort. Despite this truth, children and adults often identify areas where a child does not start off strong and prematurely decide the child cannot or will not be successful in that area.
Here at The Christ School we reject that idea. There are too many cases in which people struggled at first, but after time and effort they excelled. In fact, struggle is the way people learn best. When we try something new there are usually high levels of failure and only after we keep working and trying do we become proficient and begin to experience sustained success.
A love for reading enriches lives in many ways; learning new things, facts about a favorite subject, gaining knowledge to enhance a craft, and even developing new interests. How can you encourage a love for reading in your child? Amanda Gordon, Curriculum Specialist at The Christ School, offers tips for parents to encourage a love of reading.
Read to your young child often. When your child can read on their own, take turns reading the chapters. Talk about the books together. Go to the bookstore or library and pick out books together – make it a fun activity!
Reading doesn’t always mean reading a novel. Maybe your child enjoys reading a certain type of magazine; this is still reading! If your child loves cartoons, you can introduce stories like Captain Underpants or Dogman. If they find a silly story on the back of a cereal box, let them read it. Let your child who likes putting things together read the user’s manual. Anything with words can be reading content, even street signs!
Give books as gifts. Find fun books about topics that interest your child, and share your excitement about the gift.
Research movies that are based off of books. Have the child read the book first, and as a reward, take your child to the movie.
If a child is reading a book that is too difficult or boring, let him or her quit reading it and find something new. Reading shouldn’t be a chore. If you are forcing children to read something they don’t enjoy, they won’t enjoy reading. Don’t feel like your child has to read to the end of the book “just because.”
What if your older child hasn’t caught the reading bug? How can you encourage a love of reading at this stage?
Ask your older child to pick out a book and read it to younger siblings. By choosing the book, he or she will be interested in reading it.