Most likely, you already know that your child is naturally curious about
the world and everything in it! Join her in asking questions about interesting
things and wondering about the answers. "I wonder why worms come out
of the ground when it rains? I wonder why puddles disappear when the
sun comes out?"
You are the best model your child could have for learning to act and
think like a scientist. Have you noticed that your child is fascinated
by small bugs? The next time you see one, stop and check it out. Encourage
your child to look closely at the bug, and notice what it looks like
and what it's doing. Ask questions or make comments that invite further
exploration like "How could we find out where that bug lives?" or "I
wonder if there are any bugs like that in our yard."
Take advantage of daily opportunities to support your child's observation
and exploration around your home and neighborhood. For example if you
have house plants, invite your child to help water them while you talk
with him about what plants need as well as different leaf textures and
shapes. When you're at the supermarket, stop at the produce section.
Look for all the leafy vegetables. Find the ones that grow underground
like carrots and potatoes. Look at apples and talk with him about all
the different kinds.
Some basic household items can enrich your child's science experiences
by helping her explore and observe more closely. Give her some old spoons
for digging or a shoe box for collecting rocks or other items she finds
on a walk. Buy an inexpensive plastic magnifier, so she can look more
closely at what she collects.
The conversations you have with your child are critical in helping him
make connections, see patterns, and generate ideas. Asking questions
that begin with "Did you notice . . . ?" "How is that the same/different
from . . . ?" and "What do you think would happen if . . . ?" will encourage
him to think like a scientist. Encourage him to share his observations,
explorations, and ideas with friends and other family members too.
Visual representations can help your child talk about and share her
science experiences. Have your child show you what she observes by acting
it out or drawing it. For example, she could move her body to demonstrate
how a bird walks and flies or she could make a picture of a bird that
visits your backyard bird feeder. Some children enjoy creating a small
notebook to record their explorations. You or your child can also take
photos of the things she is doing and noticing and add them to the notebook,
which she can title "My Bird Book."
The relationships and experiences you share as a family provide unique
opportunities for helping your child notice how living things grow and
change over time. As pets like puppies and kittens grow into adult cats
and dogs, and little sisters and brothers grow into toddlers, draw your
child's attention to changes in their appearance and the new skills
they are learning. Share baby pictures with your child and talk with
him about how he is growing and changing too!
The interests and interactions that family members share can enrich
your child's science explorations. Encourage everyone in the family
to take part. For example, older brothers and sisters may enjoy helping
your child identify the leaves he collects or sharing books about trees;
an aunt or uncle may invite him to help seed a vegetable garden; and
grandparents may have stories to tell about their own experiences collecting
and using plants.
Simple or more planned family events can provide opportunities to observe
and explore the natural world. For example, take a walk through a local
park or arboretum and help your child make a small collection of fallen
leaves, nuts, or fruit to look at, touch, and describe. You can also
head out for a more exotic adventure like taking a rowboat ride at a
local pond, feeding ducks, going to a science museum or aquarium, or
going out at night to look up at the stars.
Take a tip from the Cat in the Hat and remember to keep the fun in science.
Encourage your child to use words, create rhymes, and sing songs about
what she is doing, noticing, and learning in science. Join your child
in viewing The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!TM
programs and use the parents resources to engage your child in fun ways
to learn science.