Although STEM education is inarguably essential in today’s economy, it is not always seamlessly incorporated into early childhood education–and the barriers to inclusion are more pervasive than many educators might realize.
“Just as the industrial revolution made it necessary for all children to learn to read, the technology revolution has made it critical for all children to understand STEM,” according to the report.
After a 2013 STEM workshop targeted to early childhood educators, those who attended said they were excited by evidence-based STEM education practices and tools, but many also noted various barriers to implementation, including feeling limited by existing school structures and policies; the misapplication of new education standards; disconnects between preschool and elementary school practices; and an underprepared workforce.
The NSF-funded report, STEM Starts Early: Grounding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education in Early Childhood, is the product of an effort by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and New America to respond to those educators’ concerns about STEM education and also to:
- Gain a better grasp of the challenges to and opportunities in STEM learning outlined in a review of early childhood education research, policy and practice
- Offer recommendations to stimulate research and policy agendas
- Encourage collaboration between pivotal sectors to implement and sustain needed changes
(Next page: The critical role families play in STEM education)