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Young children’s natural connection with Science

Why teach science to young children? Because young children and science are a natural fit. Early learning science engages young explorers.
Natural Connection to Science

Written by Christine Howitt

In satisfying their curiosity to better understand how the world works, young children wonder, observe, explore, question and discover. Thus, they are naturally engaging in science practices and developing their science knowledge. Appropriate early science learning experiences can lay the foundations for the development of young children’s scientific concepts, skills, language and thinking; enhance young children’s scientific attitudes and dispositions; and improve their science identity.

Supporting the early science learning experience

Various principles can be used to support early science learning experience.

  1. Believe in young children’s capacity to engage with science. Never underestimate young children’s ability to learn basic science ideas and practices. Rather, acknowledge their capacity and provide opportunities, experiences and appropriate scientific language for them to develop science skills and knowledge.
  2. Be there to support young children in their science learning. Materials presented to young children do not teach scientific concepts on their own. It is through conversations between educators and children, while interacting with materials, that the most effective science learning occurs. Educators can assist young children’s learning by being a source of expertise, skills and knowledge; actively listening to their ideas; encouraging them to ask questions; and initiating and stimulating talk.
  3. Provide multiple and varied opportunities to engage in hands-on science. As young children learn best by doing, provide engaging science learning experiences over multiple opportunities with appropriate and varied materials.
  4. Recognise that science learning occurs everywhere. The development of young children’s science skills and knowledge happens everywhere – not just in a classroom. Homes, zoos, parks and museums provide many opportunities for children to learn about science. Everyday activities relating to cooking, gardening, weather (see photo) and toys also provide science learning opportunities.
  5. Provide time for young children to develop their science skills and knowledge. Young children require time to explore resources, discover ideas, construct meaning and learn skills. Time also allows then to revisit old ideas and test new ones.

Eyes Wide Open presents a new early childhood science resource where children’s agency is acknowledged through the provision of a range of engaging hands-on activities using varied materials that are supported by the educator.

Early Science Learning

 

About the author

Christine Howitt is an Associate Professor in early childhood science education in the Graduate School of Education at The University of Western Australia. Her research interests relate to enhancing the science identity of young children and learning science in informal contexts. Christine has published a range of books to make science more accessible to young children and their educators and parents, including Science is Everywhere, Planting the Seeds of Science and Colour Ideas for Kindergarten Children.

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