Fisher, Hirsh‐Pasek, Newcombe, & Golinkoff, 2013

It is important to encourage children’s STEM learning from an early age. Learning STEM is similar to learning a language. Just like language, children need to be immersed in STEM to become fluent in it. Opportunities to engage with STEM in their everyday lives help children become fluent.

Active learning and exploration are important for children to build their STEM skills. These activities help children learn and build their fluency in STEM during play. A key part of helping children enjoy learning about STEM is to do STEM activities together. Children learn from other people, and they enjoy learning with others. Adults can use social interactions to help children develop their knowledge of STEM concepts. In one study, children learn more about shapes when an adult guided their play, rather than instructing them, or letting children play on their own.

What kinds of activities help encourage early STEM learning? In the next pages, we describe each area of STEM and what it looks like for young children before they enter formal schooling. We will also talk briefly about how to support, or scaffold young children’s STEM leaning.