As the modern workplace continues to evolve, it is evident that a strong background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is the key to a positive future.
Parents want their children to have every opportunity to learn how to be successful when they grow up. As the modern workplace continues to evolve, it is evident that a strong background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is the key to a positive future. One study projects that, at the estimated rates of new job openings in the United States, the market for STEM-related careers will fall short by one million professionals over the next ten years. Growth has been increasing in STEM fields by 17% as compared to non-STEM-related industries at only 10%.
With such considerable skill gaps forecasted in the future workforce, experts are turning to childhood education as the path for preparing the next phase of professionals. While childhood education has traditionally focused on fundamentals such as reading and writing, it is clear that the success of this generation’s youth will come from knowledge and confidence in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Recent education trends have suggested that parents can help their children prepare for learning even before their official education path launches. “Quality early STEM experiences provide a critical foundation for learning about these disciplines in ways that facilitate later learning,” according to a 2018 brief funded by the National Science Foundation. Studies have shown that young children can identify themes such as cause and effect, explain thinking behind math reasoning, explore ideas, and understand concepts like dimension and size. By introducing STEM concepts at an early age, children are more likely to develop robust problem-solving and communication techniques.
Most education in STEM areas includes teaching children through hands-on group experiences, promoting social-emotional development. Through these activities, children learn valuable lessons of working with others and improve their interpersonal skills. Many leading companies value the combination of STEM expertise and collaboration. For example, SBB Research Group, a Chicago-based investment firm that champions many STEM initiatives, believes that beginning a STEM education at an early age helps prepare children for success in school and in the future workforce. The company sponsors the annual Greater Chicago K-12 Chess Championship, offers a STEM scholarship, and donates STEM-related education materials and assistance to support the community.
Another benefit is the development of certain habits of mind. Curiosity comes naturally to children, and teaching STEM-related subjects further encourages and promotes their innate curiosity. Critical thinking skills, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration can be formed as positive, long-lasting habits. These habits help build confidence and positive thinking about math and science.
Formal STEM curricula in schools as well as after-school programs, summer camps, and other non-traditional educational programs offer children critical learning opportunities. Additionally, exposure to real-life applications of STEM-related topics inspires students to apply their skills in their careers and throughout their lives. Regardless of the setting, investing in STEM education now will pay future dividends in the form of new medicines, healthier foods, safer technologies, and countless other benefits to society.