Posted in Education, guest blogs, Parenting, STEM

Why you should teach S.T.E.M. to children from a young age By Jonathan Drake, Head of Accessories at The Core Group

The world today is changing rapidly. Technological advancements are unlike anything we have seen before. We have entered the fourth industrial revolution and can only speculate about the future of workplaces and the required skill sets.

 

Children need to prepare for an exciting and tech-driven future, and we need to enable them to acquire the necessary skills to build their careers. The education curriculum is adapting to meet this need by introducing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) in the school syllabus to help children develop creative problem-solving, critical thinking, logical reasoning, and other vital skills. Many early learning brands like PlayShifu are creating incredible toys that help children master S.T.E.M. and all these essential skills early on.

 

However, S.T.E.M. is more than learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. At its core, S.T.E.M. is the process of integrating these disciplines to help children develop new ways of thinking that interlink science and mathematics to technology and engineering and how it all fits into our daily lives. This holistic approach to learning encourages children to experiment with concepts and develop critical thinking, logical analysis, curiosity, and inquiry through trial and error.

 

Although educators and parents are generally aware of the importance of S.T.E.M. and its benefits, until recently, S.T.E.M. initiatives have been limited to children that have demonstrated an aptitude for subjects such as mathematics. Further, funding is often set aside for higher grade levels and overlooking the benefit of S.T.E.M. for younger learners.

 

When should S.T.E.M. be introduced to children?

Children are naturally curious, explorative, and eager to learn. All these qualities are crucial for S.T.E.M. learning. By their very nature, they are scientists at heart exploring the world around them, organizing items, and trying to figure out how and why everything works the way it does. PlayShifu’s Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto offer children a safe and sound space to play, tinker, and learn. PlayShifu’s Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto offer a safe and sound space for children to play, tinker, and learn.

 

Introducing children to S.T.E.M. experiences helps establish a critical foundation early on and fosters a positive attitude towards learning. Children as young as three can be introduced to S.T.E.M. learning as suggested by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Next Generation Science Standards, and International Standards for Technology in Education[1].

 

What are the benefits of introducing S.T.E.M. at an early age?
From language development to collaborative learning, there are several significant benefits to introducing S.T.E.M. to children at an early age. The most pertinent benefit is that it prepares them for the workplace of the future. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, non-S.T.E.M. occupations are predicted to grow by 5% between 2018 and 2028, while the number of S.T.E.M.-related jobs are expected to grow by 9%, creating 10.6 million jobs[2].

 

Children who are introduced to S.T.E.M. early on could perform better academically and could pursue a career in S.T.E.M. comfortably. Early S.T.E.M. learning helps develop critical thinking, creativity, and other essential foundational skills. The Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop study[3] asserts that closing the gap between preschool and elementary school practices is necessary to prepare children for a better digital future.

 

What can parents do to encourage S.T.E.M. learning at home?

Many schools have started implementing S.T.E.M. learning into the curriculum from preschool through to Grade 12. However, parents have an important role to play in encouraging S.T.E.M. learning at home from an early age. Parents’ guidance at a young age could impact children’s attitudes toward learning in the classroom and beyond.

 

The study from the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop found that many parents felt anxious or lacked confidence in their knowledge of S.T.E.M. and thus found it difficult to implement and encourage S.T.E.M. development at home. Fortunately, more tools like PlayShifu’s Orboot and Plugo are becoming available to help parents foster S.T.E.M. activities at home.

 

How to introduce S.T.E.M. to young children?

 

Many innovative S.T.E.M. toys integrate tech seamlessly with rich storytelling and gameplay that encourages curiosity and learning.  However, screen time is a major concern among 21st-century parents. Extended screen time is known to cause behavioural problems and sleep disorders.

 

That said, the focus of screen time is shifting from avoiding screens to harnessing their benefits as learning supplements, providing opportunities to learn through play, and changing the role of children from being passive recipients of information to participants in learning alongside a screen.

 

PlayShifu’s innovative use of Augmented Reality and tactile toys brings phenomenal educational games for children. These games are driven by hands-on play that enriches and brings new meaning to screen time. They have developed smart S.T.E.M. toys that work in conjunction with a phone or tablet device to help foster critical thinking, grammar, logic, social-emotional learning, cultural awareness, and problem-solving skills. The products have physical components that children can touch, connect, and build with. And the companion app has super fun games that teach children various curriculum-based concepts.

 

The PlayShifu range includes Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto, which start at R899 and can be purchased from iStore, Takealot, and Toys’R’Us. Designed for ages 4 to 12, all the product platforms are supported by free-to-download apps that work with a range of devices on iOS and Android.

 

About PlayShifu

PlayShifu is a leading early learning toy company offering a variety of immersive, educational toys that connect the physical and digital worlds. The play experiences are specially designed for kids ages 4 to 12 years, and build foundational STEAM skills through fun. Founded in 2016 by Dinesh Advani and Vivek Goyal after they saw a need to provide meaningful digital play experiences for their kids, PlayShifu is now loved around the world. With offices in the U.S. and India, PlayShifu products are available in more than 35 countries through online marketplaces including Amazon, and brick-and-mortar locations including Sam’s Club, BestBuy, Argos, Toys‘R’Us, Hamleys, Virgin Media, and Rakuten.

 

To purchase and find out more, visit PlayShifu.com.

[1] http://cadrek12.org/sites/default/files/DRK12-Early-STEM-Learning-Brief.pdf

[2] https://soeonline.american.edu/blog/stem-in-early-childhood-education

[3] https://joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/stem-starts-early/

Posted in guest blogs

Things to discuss with your children before getting a pet dog by Bev Wood from Through Bev’s Eyes

I recently read about my nephews new puppy that they found and I asked my sister, Through Bev’s Eyes,to write a short piece about the boy’s experience and the things we, as parents need to discuss with our children before getting a pet dog.

A family who loves pets

I feel that the balance of a happy home consists of the love between children and pets and because of this there have always been a wide assortment of pets in our home.

We also always have a stray or sick animal, that the boys may have found along their travels, housed in our home.

My youngest two sons, who are fourteen and twelve, have developed such a special bond and love for any animal.

Their dreams and goals as they grow older is to rescue, help and work with animals together .I must say this is very heart warming for me as a mother to see and hear as I share their love of nature.

A dog is found

A few weeks ago my sons were on an adventure walk and found a lost puppy on the train tracks. The poor little dog was so scared and starving. Naturally, their first instinct was to bring the dog home .

Thinking it a stray and knowing this mom also has a soft heart for animals,they knew I would allow it to stay.

In the week that followed they took the full responsibility to look after and walk the dog daily.

On one of the walks the neighbour of the lost dog noticed the dog and took the dog to it’s owner. The kids came home with broken hearts .

They had lost a fur friend .

But no good deed goes unpunished

Seeing them be as responsible as they were, I have agreed to get them a puppy.

The only condition is that they are fully responsible for the dog.

So many adults and children want pets, get them and a few weeks later are bored or irritated with their new pets.

These pets then lands up as the parents responsibility or are given to new homes or animal shelters.

I am sure most parents will agree that at 12 and 14 these boys are now big enough to take full responsibility for any wors they want.

But pets are a huge responsibility

As a family we have discussed that puppies are a huge responsibity and they cost money, also not forgetting all the responsibility and routines that go with having a new puppy.

Here is a list of topics we discussed and I had them think about :

  • Where the pet is going to sleep and stay once it arrives .
  • Is the garden area is safe
  • When the pet is let out where will it sleep
  • and what items are needed for the pet to sleep ….remembering it must have it’s own bed not theirs .
  • Meals : pets require curtain foods and how many meals they need to have per day and the sizes of each portion rembering the wet to the dry .
  • Excersise: all pets need to be active, so they need to play with the pet and have scheduled times to walk the pet in a safe environment .
  • Training : this includes toys for the pet so they don’t chew up everything in the house
  • Hygiene : extra sanitizing especially now with covid
  • Cleaning:how to remove the pet mess and where to dump it once picked up. Also how to keep the animal clean.

The cost of a pet

As I really want to emphasize the cost of a pet and I was impressed when both boys declared that their aim is continue to do odd jobs for our friendly neighbours to earn pocket money to look after their new fur friend.

We have since found a new puppy to join our family and the boys have just three more weeks until they meet their special new friend.

They are so excited and the hours just aren’t going fast enough .

Beverly Wood is the mom of 4 sons, animal lover and coffee addict currently living in Durban and enjoying the ups and downs of being a #boymom