(Family Features) According to the United States Department of Commerce, 65 percent of jobs for kids today don’t exist yet, which is why it’s important for them to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as those occupations are growing at a rate of 17 percent. This type of education increases science literacy, creates critical thinkers and can prepare the next generation for a bright future.
STEM is educational, but it can also be enjoyable for the whole family. Consider taking your child’s learning further with these five tips that can help create playful experiences and spark educational fun.
Start Early. According to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, brain and skill-building experiences are critical for child development early in life, and high-quality, early STEM experiences can support children’s growth. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills can even be developed with programming and coding toys that light up and make sounds.
Encourage Creative Construction. STEM toys can be fundamental learning tools that can help children build and construct creatively at any age. The world is a canvas for creative construction, as children can draw with tools around the house to build their first masterpieces. If your little one enjoys 3-D building and matching, a toy like the Mega Bloks Big Building Bag is perfect for little builders to explore the concept of construction with big blocks, allowing for endless creativity to build anything they can imagine.
Use Technology to Your Advantage. With some reports estimating children spend an average of seven hours a day on smart devices, look for ways to turn this time into learning time. Make tech time count with options that teach kids how to code, build apps and make digital projects come to life. Or have them build their own video game from scratch. Kids can build their own levels, heroes and art to make their stories come to life.
Play Your Way. Additionally, STEM toys can be helpful learning tools for everything from sequencing to building and planning. Integrating an activity that your child is already interested in is one way to introduce more education into their play time. With KamiGami, you can inspire future scientists with interactive STEM features where they can build six-legged animal robots and learn programming to create dances with lights, movements and sounds.
Find Resources in Your Community. Interacting with STEM toys and experiences offers nearly endless possibilities for young children to develop their skills in fun and engaging ways. Try looking for community events centered around science or engineering. Many local community centers offer classes and may host special STEM-focused events, organizations and science fairs.
Find more information and ways to creatively inspire your children’s learning opportunities at mattel.com.