6 Benefits of STEAM Education for Elementary School Age Kids

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If you’re an older millennial mom like me, you probably knew nothing of STEAM education before your oldest child started elementary school. You may have heard murmurings of STEM -- an educational movement focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math -- during preschool, but before you’d even gotten a handle on the concept, the focus shifted to STEAM!

Between the acronyms and the somewhat sudden shift in focus, it may seem like a fleeting educational trend, but the tenets of this educational concepts aren’t just fads. STEAM -- which incorporates the arts -- is a movement that will instill critical skills in our children to help prepare them not just for the workforce but for the many challenges they will face throughout their lives.

Even if your child’s school hasn’t latched onto the movement yet, or never does, it’s a concept that your little ones will benefit from greatly -- and one that you can introduce and encourage at home. Here are six benefits of STEAM Education for elementary school kids.

STEAM prepares kids for the changing workforce. While many people gripe that modern technology is leaving fewer jobs available for actual people, that idea isn’t exactly accurate. Modern technology is actually changing the needs of the workforce rather than totally eliminating them. Children who receive a STEAM-based education from an early age will be best-prepared for the workforce of the future, which will require employees to think and act both more critically and more creatively. Advances in technology will create new and different jobs than we’ve seen in the past, and people who were educated with an emphasis on STEAM will be the ones to fill those new jobs.

STEAM ensures that your child’s knowledge base is well-rounded. The inclusion of arts along with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math will help children to see potential problems and obstacles from many angles and come up with creative ways to solve them. For instance, a child who learns how to code through a game that allows him to build characters from scratch will have much more intuitive problem-solving skills as a future computer programmer or designer; one who learns how to draw simple pictures or representations will be better equipped to communicate ideas and solutions to co-workers from various departments, etc.

STEAM empowers students to use their unique talents. In past generations, many of us were taught that there is one specific way to do something, like solve an equation, and that everyone had to learn how to do it that exact way if they were to succeed. But STEAM allows children the freedom to think outside the box and solve problems in a way that comes more naturally to them, which will lead to more independence and confidence in college and beyond.

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STEAM keeps kids interested. Since STEAM provides a much more dynamic educational format, the days of sitting at a classroom desk for hours on end listening to a teacher lecture and completing worksheets are a thing of the past. STEAM often requires hands-on and cooperative learning which is far more engaging and interesting -- especially to younger children with shorter attention spans -- making it more likely that they will retain the information and skills they are being taught, and even be excited to continue learning.

STEAM may encourage more girls toward careers traditionally dominated by men. Science and math are traditionally fields that have been dominated by men -- today, women hold only 25-percent of STEM jobs in the US -- and many girls have been discouraged from these careers from an early age. But those statistics have nothing to do with aptitude! Implementing STEAM during the elementary years levels the playing field somewhat by implicitly encouraging girls’ interest in these subjects and building their confidence in a natural way.

STEAM is practical and versatile. The hands-on approach that STEAM education encourages can benefit even individuals who don’t end up with careers in a STEAM field since it emphasizes creativity, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking. These are all essential skills in just about any field of work, as well as daily life, that give individuals an edge in the workforce as well as better equip them to handle stress and other life challenges in a composed, calm, thoughtful and constructive way.

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