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Exploring Science with Kids

Science with Kids

Helping children engage in the world of science can be daunting. Many parents feel they don’t know enough about science to help their children at all. Those who do know the world of science may be confused about how to help young children learn about complex concepts. A common question from adults is, “How can I explain such a hard concept in a simple enough way for my child to understand?”

    

Explanations Do Not Always Help

Explanations, even simple ones, do not always help children (or adults, for that matter!) understand complex ideas. So what’s a parent to do? The simple answer is to worry less about explaining to your child, and spend more time modeling the fun of science: going on walks, mixing things, testing to see what will happen, observing carefully and wondering along with your child.

   

Science Is About Trying to Make Sense of the World

Science is not simply about knowing information—it is equally a way of trying to make sense of the world. Scientists must ask questions, design investigations, try to make sense of the information they have gathered during the investigations, and communicate and defend their thinking to others. They don’t always find the answers to their questions, and they don’t always agree.

   

Help Children Think Like Scientists

It is much more important for parents to help children develop the skills they need to think like scientists than to help them understand complex scientific concepts. Even the youngest children are quite capable of beginning to build these skills.

   

A Few Pointers

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you enjoy science alongside your child:

Building Language at Different Stages of Development

Many of the activities for Infants and Toddlers will principally involve building language. As you describe and name interesting phenomena, your child will be exposed to a rich variety of new words. Your Preschooler/Kindergartner usually is developmentally capable to physically engage with things on his own, and has gained some facility with language to begin to describe and discuss his experiences. The First Grader/Reader-Writer is better able to record her experiences and make some predictions based on her extra years of experience. This is your chance to help your child explore the world of science by engaging in some exciting and fun investigations together!

This article is from the "Exploring Science with Kids" section of the PBS Parents website.

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