Tips For Parents
Science Matters. Good science matters.
And good science literally starts in your child’s elementary classroom.
pipeline for our next generation of scientists, engineers, and
technicians begins in the K–6 classroom. Quality elementary science
lessons capture children’s attention when they are most open, most
curious, and most naturally disposed to asking questions about the
world around them.
Young children who receive a strong
foundation in science during their elementary school years do better in
science in later grades. Many students also make fundamental career
decisions by the time they get to middle school, so engaging students
in science at an early age provides them with more career opportunities
in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers.
Science Matters. On this page we invite you to read "Tips For Busy Parents."
Tips for Busy Parents
you panic when your child comes home from school asking for help with
his or her science fair project? Do you ever wonder how you can help
your child learn science? You are not alone. Many parents—especially
those who didn't pursue careers in science—may be apprehensive,
sometimes even fearful, about this endeavor.
We commend you
for your desire to help guide and support your children in their
education, specifically in the field of science. Science is a way of
understanding the world, a perspective, and a pattern of thinking that
begins in the very early years. That is why parent involvement is so
important in a child's science education.
Families who explore
together nurture great young scientists! Studies show that the family
experiences that students bring to school are some of the biggest
predictors of success (Hazen and Trefil 1991). With this in mind, the
National Science Teachers Association has created a set of resources
for parents—Help Your Child Explore Science.
Here are some additional tips:
- See science everywhere. Parents
can take opportunities to ask "What would happen if …?" questions or
present brainteasers to encourage children to be inquisitive and seek
out answers. Children need to know that science isn't just a subject,
but it is a way of understanding the world around us.
- Lead family discussions on science-related topics. Dinnertime
might be an ideal time for your family to have discussions about news
stories that are science based, like space shuttle missions, severe
weather conditions, or new medical breakthroughs. Over time, children
will develop a better understanding of science and how it affects many
facets of our lives. Movies and TV shows with science-related
storylines are also great topics for discussion. For example: After watching Jurassic Park, you
might want to discuss with your children the significance of the name
of the movie or how human involvement in natural processes can cause
- Encourage girls and boys equally. Many
fathers might be inclined to fix a problem for a daughter without
challenging her to find the solution on her own. Many girls are left
out of challenging activities simply because of their gender. Be aware
that both girls and boys need to be encouraged and exposed to a variety
of subjects at a very early age.
- Do science together. Children,
especially elementary-age children, learn better by investigating and
experimenting. Simple investigations done together in the home can
bolster what your child is learning in the classroom. Check with your
child's teacher on what your child is currently learning in class and
what activities you can explore at home. There are also many books on
the market and numerous websites that present ideas for investigations. For example:
Using a penny and a water dropper, ask your child to guess how many
drops of water will fit on top of it. Ask your child to count the drops
as he or she drops them on the penny. Why doesn't the water spill off
after a few drops? Water molecules across the surface are attracted to
each other. The attraction is strong enough to allow the water to rise
above the penny without spilling. At some point, the molecules of water
can no longer hold together and spill off the penny.
- Obtain science resources. Follow
up science discussions, home experiments, or classroom lessons with
books, magazines, CDs, and other resources. Science themes will be
reinforced through further exploration, and over time your family will
have plenty of resources on which to draw.
- Explore nonformal education sites. In
an informal learning situation—the kind of learning that happens
outside the traditional confines of the classroom, at science centers,
museums, zoos, and aquariums—children are encouraged to experiment on
their own and ask questions about what they are experiencing.
- Connect science with a family vacation. Family
vacations are a great way to explore science. It could be a hiking
trip where you explore nature or a discussion on tides during a beach
- Become active in your children's formal education by getting to know the teacher and the curriculum.
Participate in your child's school science program by locating
scientists and others to be guest speakers, or accompany your child on a
field trip to a science-related place.
Show excitement for science!