Toddlers are famous for the “why” stage of development where they ask endless questions day and night in order to gain an understanding of the world.
This stage is often joked about and exhausting for parents and caregivers but is a prime example of the scientist in everyone.
J.D. Chesloff a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s STEM Advisory Council’s Executive Committee told the Boston Globe that the ages between 1 and 4 are when the brain is especially receptive to learning concepts related to STEM. Literature, sensory, and sorting are common elements of infant and toddler programs, which also support the “why” stage. Chesloff also adds that “Early exposure to STEM—whether it be in school, at a museum, library, or just engaging in the natural trial and error of play—supports children’s overall academic growth, develops early critical thinking and reasoning skills, and enhances later interest in STEM study and careers.”
The “why” stage puts STEM concepts front and center in a toddler’s life and allows caregivers to learn along with them. The first step is to accept that you, as the adult, do not know the answers to everything and that is perfectly fine! Next, you can begin to learn with the toddler, asking questions, testing hypotheses, gathering data. Then you may be able to answer those “why” questions alongside the child and experience STEM concepts usually through play. For example, Bindi asks “what is this for?” holding up a piece of a new building block set. You are unsure of exactly what the purpose of the piece is, therefore you work with her to find out.
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