How to teach science to your elementary school kid?

Hint: It’s not elementary. Your passionate involvement is the key.

Right after pre-school or kindergarten, your child is ready to graduate to the next level- the elementary or primary school. In a way, it’s her first foray into the world of formal education where things move fast, signs turn into language, sketches turn into art, and the world around starts getting broken down into nitty-gritties of Science. Complicating things further is the almost quantum jump that the subject takes with each grade.

This is the stage where kids need the most support. From playing with balloons to understanding why they go up, it’s a sea change that requires utmost attention, empathy, truckloads of patience and above all the right set of tools at a parent’s disposal. Elementary school is but one of them. The child needs more than emotional support from you as parent(s).

In the last post, we talked about how technology, esp. the internet and allied tools help. Here we will talk about the approach itself. Going forward, we also plan to introduce topics in greater detail right out of NSTA approved syllabi, and break the same down for you to easily prepare yourself towards being the best friend-cum parent that your child needs.

Before that, let’s talk about the approach.

  1. Analyze the child’s innate psychology through behavioral cues: Is she outgoing and extrovert, or an introvert? Does she ask a lot of questions? Does she spend a disproportionate time sketching than talking? Does she like books/stationery or is hooked on to television , or your iPad? This will help you decide the best course of education- indoors or outdoors, inviting friends over or using the technology more and so on. Your approach should be a mix of reinforcing the likes, while at the same time breaking barriers in terms of dislikes so that the child can develop an all round personality
  2. Talk to other parents: At the school PTA meets, or at your neighborhood club, talk to parents- both who have children in the same age group as well as a couple of grades ahead. Draw on the thoughts, experiences and ideas. May be join or form a club of like-minded parents in the area.
  3. Build a framework of study and play for the kid: With all the knowledge gained through observation and peer learning, design a malleable and ductile framework of whats, whens, wheres, and hows of subjects- in theory and in practice, activities, playtimes and downtimes. Decide on the usage of technology. Too much of it and it be overbearing, too little and you may just go back to the 19th century. At the same time, remember rest is as important as exercise itself, whether physical or mental. Also remember teaching science is 20% theory and 80% real life experiments, observations and practice. Unlike other subjects, you can’t just be a good narrator as a parent-teacher. You need to immerse yourself as much as possible.
  4. Execute- with all your passion and ability. Do not forget to take help wherever required. There are professionals as well as friends always ready by the corner. Identify them and let them support you.

Happy Science teaching to your little ones. Do your best. They may well be the next Newton, Tesla or Jobs for all you know…

As a footnote, it would be great to go through the NSTA position statement on Parent Involvement in Science Learning

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