Recently I was asked why I am doing Messy Fingers - can preschoolers really do science?
YES! While we often hear that kids are little sponges absorbing knowledge like crazy (and I agree it this is true), science is not just about a collection of facts. Science is a process, a method of learning about the world. When we use science we are thinking critically about the world and figuring out how things work.
Messy Fingers teaches kids a process of observation, predicting, collecting data, and revisiting predictions. Ok, I don't always talk about in those terms with 4 year olds, but we ask a lot of questions and look for the messiest way to collect the data to answer those questions. We always revisit our question and see what we learned.
Many books are on the market right now and there is quite the hubbub in education about how to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering, and math courses and careers. Millions of dollars are spent by government agencies to support ways to get school and university students to take more of these classes and go into these careers.
American students are falling behind their counter parts world wide in math and science at a steady rate. This has been going on for years.
So how is our little Messy Fingers going to stem the tide of falling math scores and tumbling science grades?
If we KEEP kids interested in science, engineering, math and technology, then we don't have to RE-interested, or inspire them, or RE-introduce them. Kids are naturally interested in the world around them, and if we provide them with the methods to explore it and the tools to think about it critically, they will STAY interested.
Parents are the first and best teachers for kids. If we are interested, ask questions, find out how/why/which etc, and then see if we answered our questions - don't your suppose our kids will too...?
Next time your child asks, "What would happen if...?" don't just tell them, ask them, "What do you think would happen?" and explore the answer together.
Messy Fingers is but a seed. Parents have to tend it and we will all see how it grows.