As a parent, you want your children to have access to the best education possible. Family support is key in the success of a child. The reality is that in today's world, the competition for jobs is global and your children need a broad set of skills in order to ensure life-long success. A solid STEM education can help your child obtain the skills needed to compete and thrive at school and at work in the 21st century global economy but often we find this is not enough. Girl Scouts can help girls pursue their interests beyond the classroom, brining practical application to classroom concepts.
Science is not something mysterious. Being "scientific" involves being curious, observing, asking how things happen, and learning how to find the answers. Curiosity is natural to children, but they need help understanding how to make sense of what they see. Parents help their children learn--by reading to and with them, by helping them learn to count and calculate, by helping them begin to write, and in many other ways.
Many adults, though, say they do not--or cannot--help children with science. But we don't need degrees in chemistry or physics to help our children. All we need is a willingness to observe and learn with them, and, above all, to make an effort and take the time to nurture their natural curiosity.
As adults, we must prepare our children for a world vastly different from the one in which we grew up. In the next century, this country will need citizens with more training in science and technology than most of us had in school. Even children who don't want to be scientists, engineers, or computer technicians will need science to cope with their rapidly changing environment. But without our help, our children will not be prepared for these changes.
Science Starts at Home & in the Troop
We play a crucial role in determining how much science our children learn. Our enthusiasm and encouragement can spark their interest. Fortunately, youngsters of all ages are curious and love to investigate. And the earlier we encourage this curiosity, the better. Scientific knowledge is cumulative, so children need to start learning early--at home. Many of us assume that children will learn all the science they need at school. The fact is that most children, particularly in elementary school, are taught very little science.
How You Can Help
As parents & leaders, we don't have to have a strong background in science to help our girls learn science. What's far more important than knowing what sound is or how a telescope works, is having a positive attitude about science. Every day is filled with opportunities to learn science--without expensive chemistry sets or books. Children can easily be introduced to the natural world and encouraged to observe what goes on around them.
Together, parents and children can--
- See how long it takes for a dandelion or a rose to burst into full bloom; or
- Watch the moon as it appears to change shape over the course of a month, and record the changes; or
- Watch a kitten grow into a cat.
- Bake a cake;
- Guess why one of your plants is drooping; or
- Figure out how the spin cycle of the washing machine gets the water out of the clothes.
If we can't answer all of our children's questions, that's all right-- no one has all the answers, even scientists. And children don't need lengthy, detailed answers to all of their questions. We can propose answers, test them out, and check them with someone else. The library, or even the dictionary, can help answer questions. We can also encourage our children to tell us their ideas and listen to their explanations. Being listened to will help them to gain confidence in their thinking and to develop their skills and interest in science. Listening helps us to determine just what children know and don't know. (It also helps the child figure out what she knows.)
We encourage you to make STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) a part of your everyday lives and a part of every Girl Scout Troop. Together, we can build the future STEM leaders of tomorrow.