Which STEM toy for kids and babies is best?
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are concepts that are trickling down from secondary education to preschool and earlier. Did you know that babies are primed for learning STEM as early as a few weeks old? With infants’ natural-born curiosity and sense of wonder, they are already wired to cultivate these skills.
All children deserve the opportunity to start kindergarten on an even playing field with the abilities they need to build a solid foundation for future learning.
Ask the right questions
Science is observing, experimenting and asking questions. Before babies are even mobile, they are nothing if not little scientists, observing and taking in their world all day long. Babies are constantly watching and learning from what they see. You can cultivate this by asking questions to make your child think, then test their hypothesis with questions such as “What color do you think this avocado will be on the inside when I cut it?” or “How many pieces of apple will this apple slicer make? Let’s count them together.”
Provide the right toys
Technology is a way of being inventive, identifying problems, coming up with solutions and making things work. If you have ever watched a toddler at play, they are using technology the whole time, making shapes fit into holes, cars drive on a track and blocks stack high. Provide construction toys such as LEGOs and blocks, and cause-and-effect toys such as shape sorters and puzzles to allow your child to practice these skills.
Help your child build things
Take technology a step further and little ones can become engineers, designing, creating and building things that work. Help your child build forts, roads and bridges for matchbox cars, insect houses and leprechaun traps. Encourage them to use ingenuity, creativity and imagination.
Find subtle ways to count
Math is an integral component of so many early skills. Anything that involves counting, sequencing, patterning or exploring shapes, size or volume is an early math skill. Without even knowing it, babies and toddlers use these skills constantly during play and exploration. Provide measuring cups during bath time, wooden beads to lace during playtime, and find patterns and shapes in nature while you are playing outside.
Test, repeat, then test again
All babies will grow up competing in the global workforce of the 21st century, and a firm foundation in early STEM will help them be better prepared to thrive. Unfortunately, the same opportunities for early enrichment do not exist across every socio-economic platform and some children are left ill-equipped. A new digital engagement program for parents seeks to equalize this divide by providing parents and guardians with the education and resources to start this critical learning at home.
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Pediatric Occupational Therapist Aimee Ketchum is an expert consultant for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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