INCREASING TIME OUTSIDE INSTEAD OF INCREASING STEM ACTIVITIES
Recently I had a librarian tell me it didn't matter what program they were running - if they just put the acronym, STEM, on it, parents would jump at the chance to sign up. I found that sad.
For those of you not familiar with STEM, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It is an initiative being pushed in and around schools to bolster the number of students who go into science and technology related fields. While the United States has historically been a leader in these fields, only 16% of high school graduates are interested in STEM careers.
Don't get me wrong - I LOVE science and math - but I think we are taking the wrong approach. We need to sign our kids up for less adult-directed class time and give them more child-directed opportunities for hands-on, sensory rich problem-solving right in their own backyard.
They are more capable then we give them credit. Children are scientists by nature.
In 2015, Barack Obama said,
He has the right idea. We want to develop kids who can tackle a given situation with critical thinking, who can deal with the crises of the present with innovative solutions and who can push through complex issues without giving up.
The answer, however, is not to increase science class time and enroll kids in more extracurriculars. Part of the solution is to go back to the basics and allow children to grow and develop in such a way that creativity, emotional intelligence and problem solving skills organically develop through play and exploration.
Remember when kids used to play outside for hours on end, only to be called in when it was time for dinner? The hardest decision was whether the stick they found would be a sword , a walking stick or a bridge. Maybe you are too young to remember that ( I'm not!).
Sadly, in addition to sitting for longer periods of time in school, pressured by academic demands, today's 8-18 year old spends an average of 7 hours 38 minutes in front of a screen every day!
Did you know?
What can we do?
Next time you go to sign up your child for another STEM activity, first ask yourself these things:
Perhaps some time in the backyard or a day at the park would be a better option.
There is no question that we want our kids to face the future with a heart of compassion and the capacity to change the world for good. One of the best ways they can do that is by having the freedom to play, on a regular basis, in natural settings.
I hope to see you outside!
Hi! I'm Ann - mother of seven, grandmother of two and occupational therapist. My mission is to provide the support families need to raise thriving children and to help you build a family environment that supports healthy development and a pathway to success.
Great blogs to check out:
Rain or Shine Mamma
Children & Nature Network
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