6 science strategies for early learners (continued)

Teachers and other education providers who work in early learning should:

1. Recognize that encouraging young children’s curiosity and giving them experiences in early science content experiences is a valuable practice.

2. Know that children explore and encounter science learning and experiences each day, but they should be encouraged to ask questions and explore those concepts in greater detail.

3. Use open-ended and inquiry-based explorations to guide and focus children’s natural interests and abilities.

4. Make sure that children have opportunities each day to engage in science inquiry and learning by developing a rich, positive, and safe environment for exploration and discovery.

5. Emphasize science and engineering practices and the processes of asking questions and defining problems, developing and using models, investigating, obtaining information, and more.

6. Recognize that science helps students develop math skills and learn math concepts, and it also gives students a chance to develop literacy skills and concepts.

NSTA also recommends that educators be given professional development experiences that will give them hands-on science learning and investigation experience. Those opportunities should be ongoing and should expose educators to a range of science teaching strategies.

The NSTA’s recommendations come on the heels of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s comments during the National Governors Association’s Winter 2014 meeting in February. In those comments, Duncan detailed a number of reasons why a high-quality early learning expansion is “inevitable.”

Public awareness about the importance of early learning is much greater and more supported today, Duncan noted. In fact, state and local early learning programs are receiving more funding for creation and expansion.

An increased number of public advocates and policymakers know that quality is key for early learning programs, especially now that a majority of states are, for the first time, assessing children’s school readiness when they begin kindergarten. Results from those assessments indicate that many children are not well-equipped to begin school.

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3 Responses to “6 science strategies for early learners”

April 1, 2014

I find it strange that an article on how to engage early learners does not mention the word “parent” or “family” anywhere in its text.

    Laura Devaney
    April 1, 2014

    Thanks for your comment! If you follow the link to the full recommendations, you’ll find suggestions for parents and caregivers as well. This article highlights the suggestions most relevant to the eSN audience–the classroom and educator strategies.

April 1, 2014

Great story – thank you! Are you familiar with arts-integrated instruction? It’s an approach to teaching in which students make connections between the arts and other academic content. Young children easily connect topics in science to creative movement/dance. An example would be to invite preschoolers to explore a selection of different materials (bricks, silk fabric, foam cubes, etc) and then express their observations about weight, flexibility, and density by moving their bodies in ways that demonstrate their understanding of their observations. All observations and movement choices are collected and compared. The learning experience would culminate in selecting the strongest ideas to use for storyboarding and building a dance. Movement, music, and the imagination are the natural languages of learning for the young child – even when they study STEM subjects!