There is often a mismatch between what students learn in the classroom and what the world demands from them after they graduate from school. This is especially true in today’s digital age and global competitiveness. None of us can predict with confidence what the future will look like five or ten years later, let alone decades down the line. Therefore we need to equip our children with the skills that will enable them to overcome future challenges.
In school, we memorised the definition of Science as the systematic study of nature to discover the fact and how they affect living things and the physical environment. While students diligently memorise definitions to score well in exams, they might not capture the true essence of learning Science and how to adopt important life skills from learning Science that could serve them well in life.
In LTH, we share four simple ways parents can use Science to develop life skills in children.
1. Experiment with magnets and other science toys (Age 5 and above)
Parents can purchase strong magnets and wow them by demonstrating to them how the invisible forces of nature work. Leave the toys to them and see how they use it to discover something new.
2. Discover with magnifying glass and microscope (Age 7 and above)
Parents can buy them a magnifying glass or even a microscope to let them start observing things around them. Bring them to the garden to observe living things of different forms and widen their horizons.
3. Play with magic tricks (Age 9 and above)
Parents can expose them to simple magic tricks to create wonder. Once they are eager to find out more, show them the Science behind it and how they can reproduce the same trick themselves.
4. Explore with building science experiments (Age 11 and above)
Parents can get science experiment books and create Science toys together with the children. Let them discover the working mechanism themselves and encourage them to create more.
In what ways are these Science activities useful to their life skill development?
1. Science fuels curiosity thus the courage to ask questions
Children are naturally curious beings. Curiosity or the eagerness to “know why”, encourages them to constantly ask questions. Since education is a lifelong process, our children must develop the ability to keep learning even during off school hours. This habit of being curious is an important life skill to develop and should be enhanced. Due to their curious nature, they love to touch what astounds them, climb around and ceaselessly ask why to anything around them, that is, if we, the adults, create space for them to do so. Science activities or experiments generally fuel curiosity in our children. No matter how senseless the questions might be for us, try to encourage and direct them to better and more intelligent questions instead of ignoring them. Their inherent habit of curiosity will be preserved and further develop years down the road.
2. Science enhances problem solving and mastery
The ability to be critical and solving problems are valuable skills in the working world. Problem solving is a skill which can only get better with every attempt. Science activities enhances problem solving. In fact, our natural urge of ‘Mastery’ will reveal itself after a while. When our children consistently get involved with these activities, you may start to see them being innovative as they independently explore ways to improvise. This is the natural urge of human lives to want to get better in what matters to them. Fundamentally, the study of Science through experimentation or trial and error will help our children develop the habit of problem solving and mastering in it.
3. Science develops perseverance
In life, it is not how hard we get knocked down but how fast we get up with every defeat. Life is never smooth sailing. It is important for children to experience defeat and overcoming frustration at a young age. In their quest to want to be better and discover great things, they will be bound to meet with various obstacles. This is when they have to learn to overcome those challenges. Parents therefore play an important role to give constant encouragement and affirmation. Never do these science activities for them but ask them how we can help them to complete their tasks.
4. Science promotes creativity and innovation
Being creative means generating something new, interesting and even useful. Being innovative is to further enhance on something that has already been created. Both are valuable life skills. Science activities promote the desire to create something new. Children love to show, especially to their parents, and impress them with something new that they have created. Although to us, their creation might seem too simple or messy to be praiseworthy, a simple ‘Well done’ or ‘Keep up the good work’ will definitely encourage them to keep going! They will continue to innovate if they find it meaningful. At a young age, children seek meaning mostly from their parents. Words like ‘Stop wasting time and get back to your school work’, would only discourage them. Such poisonous words might also strain the relationship between the parents and children.
As we encourage our children to make new discoveries through Science activities, it is an opportunity for us to discover what our children are really capable of!
Mr Linus Lin
Principal, L-intelligent Horizons Eduhub
The Editor and English Educator for LTH