The learning landscape changes every few years. New theories on childhood education crop up, and new teaching methods are touted as revolutionary. The terms for all these teaching and learning processes sometimes change, leading to confusion for parents. You’ve probably heard educators refer to “STEAM” as the focal point of their curriculum. Understanding what STEAM is and why it’s so important can help you choose the best pre-school and public school programs for your child.
What is STEAM?
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Teachers encourage inquiry, problem-solving, discussions, and critical thinking using a STEAM-based curriculum. It moves beyond practical skills like learning the alphabet or math and encourages developing each child’s ability to think independently and make connections between various aspects of the world and their lives.
An Interdisciplinary Approach
Most STEAM educators prefer a more fluid learning experience than the old-school approach. STEAM uses real-world situations as a jumping-off point for integrative learning rather than dividing the day into math, art, and science lessons in textbooks. A class about how bridges are constructed may focus on engineering, but the math of designing bridges and the technology of CAD will also be included. The art of creating beautiful but functional bridges might lead to students choosing their favorite famous bridge and discussing what they like about it.
Why is STEAM Important?
Teachers enjoy STEAM curricula because they are more fluid, allowing teachers to follow the lead of their students. If a particular question or avenue of investigation sparks enthusiasm, teachers can follow that path and adjust their lesson plans.
Students enjoy STEAM because it is more flexible and accommodates their interests, doesn’t force them to sit and memorize for long periods, and welcomes their questions. This is particularly important for children who may have learning disabilities or are neurodivergent.
STEAM Education Molds Confident Learning
Because STEAM encourages children to explore their world critically, emotionally, artistically, and physically, it contributes to a well-rounded, confident individual. Students enrolled in STEAM pre-K, and elementary programs develop a variety of skills, including:
- Critical thinking
- Artistic expression
- Healthy collaboration with others
- Resiliency and autonomy
- Coping mechanisms
- Community awareness
How to Find a STEAM Based Pre-School or Curriculum
When enrolling your child in a pre-school or early learning program, be sure to ask the teachers whether they use STEAM. Ask about the curriculum and what activities will be incorporated into the program if they do. If they mention Frog Street or other well-known STEAM programs, you’ve chosen the right place. Your child will thrive, looking forward to school and developing a secure place in the world.