Be Sociable, as With Outdoors, and Be Touchy-Feely in STEM
“I have never met anyone who is poor who doesn’t have a great sense of imagination.”
–Katherine Bates, Scholastic
Childhood Nurturing has a strong impact on the intellectual development of our children. Gardening, cognitive skills, and music and art come to mind. Human brain development is important, but STEM- and STEAM-based learning opportunities are key elements to nurture kids’ brain development and the overall well-being of our children.
“Children are just like animals. When they’re infants, they are more discerning and can distinguish some objects from others. Because of this, they have some challenges with spatial reasoning. We observe people’s development of these areas of the brain as they move through childhood and adolescence. Different learners have different needs in that age group.”
–John Deasy, Glenbrook School District 225’s Superintendent
Aside from the enjoyment a child gets from outdoor play, other facts from Todd Mitola, a licensed elementary education teacher, include:
Sixty-five percent of 5th graders are less than a year out of kindergarten and can’t use a bus stop because their head cannot catch the trajectory of a moving vehicle.
Nearly one-third of 4th graders cannot use the pencil and paper at home because of the impact of a variety of potential accidents.
Teachers need to deliver helpful pedagogical information about various sensory experiences, beyond what’s been shown in published material.
In preschool and kindergarten, parents and teachers can empower children to use spatial thinking to solve the world around them.
“My first teacher, the first day she came into my classroom, felt like she knew everything about me. Even though she had been teaching for many years, it was strange. For me, it was difficult because she felt so familiar, so right, but I knew that she didn’t know. That’s the issue: often, teachers have spent years without understanding about children. Children take many years to learn.”
-Pamela Kuhlmann, CCCT, St. Thomas Aquinas
Gardening is a wonderful activity to use spatial skills and helps train children’s reasoning and visual ability. Children learn to intuitively manipulate objects and see what occurs at specific points on an object. As they grow, spatial capabilities may become prominent, allowing them to sense and calculate the angle of difference between two objects. Developmentally, each development takes place at its own pace. It is more beneficial to address these areas of intellectual development when children are young. Children need to have problem-solving and relationship skills. If we foster these skills early, they are much more likely to be more fluid and more independent as they mature. Children who are nurtured will have an easier time as they grow.
“If you introduce learning to a child, they will love it, so you have to teach them how to approach something and get them really excited about learning.
–Peggy Mouton, who worked for 2 decades at a Geneva university for children with language development disabilities
When adults approach a problem and not the child, this often results in inappropriate answers that are very frustrating. One important observation for early intervention is a child’s ability to think through an issue that is relevant to their daily lives. Think of the LEGO block puzzle or an inner-tube race. To create a quality educational solution, involve the child in your thinking. It’s important to step back and have a neutral perspective so you can explain your reasoning to your child. If you use a tool on which there is little understanding, the child will not appreciate it or understand it in a way to help them.”
-Joel Rice, a current dentist in Geneva