10 Ways Parents Can Encourage STEM/STEAM Play in Their Kids

The Toy Association recently released their report on STEM/STEAM play and learning. A committee of educational experts put together and reviewed the report, “Decoding STEM/STEAM.” According to executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association, Ken Seiter, “Many toys and children’s products on the market are labeled as being STEM- or STEAM-focused, but in reality, there is no universally accepted system for understanding what this label means.” And so, a report was born.

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Photo: Pixabay.com

How can STEM/STEAM toys benefit your child and what can you do to encourage this type of play? Here’s what the report had to say:

Intrinsic Motivation

Choose toys that motivate your child from within. This helps to foster a positive relationship with STEM/STEAM learning.

Fail With Fun

Failing is okay. And that’s something that STEM/STEAM toys can teach your child. You want your child to take risks and feel like they don’t always have to be right.

Cool Collaboration

Growing up means learning how to be a team player. STEM/STEAM play can (and should) foster the social and emotional skills need to collaborate and build what New Your Times columnist Thomas Freidman calls, “STEMpathy.”

Squash Stereotypes

Who says that girls can’t be chemist or that boys can’t be ballet dancers? STEM and STEAM toys expand would-be gender roles, and don’t turn them into stereotypes.

Healthy Risks

Hey, it’s not like you want your kiddo playing with real chemicals or anything. But some degree of safe, age-appropriate risk can help your child to grow and develop. This may mean that your child plays with a toy that’s totally different than the usual suspects or that they try an activity that might seem too difficult for them.

Hands-On, Minds-On

STEM and STEAM toys should encourage your kiddo to get hands-on. When they involve themselves in active play, your child builds cognitive skills that will help them now and down the road.

Find Talents

Using STEM/STEAM toys gives your child the chance to explore and expand their talents—and all through play.

Real & Relevant

Science, technology, engineering, art and math are all around us. The toys your child plays with can help them to realize this.

Problem Solve

STEM/STEAM is all about exploration and experimentation. And the toys your child plays with can help them to do this by solving problems, thinking critically and so much more!

Arts Integration

Art is a major part of STEAM. With that in mind, your kiddo’s toys should help them to get creative and use their imagination.

—Erica Loop

Featured photo: pixabay.com


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