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Tips for Exploring Science with Children

looking at jarA common science question from adults is, “How can I explain such a hard concept in a simple enough way for my child to understand?” Find the most effective strategies and suggestions for exploring science with children.

Explanations Do Not Always Help
Explanations, even simple ones, do not always help children (or adults, for that matter!) understand complex ideas. So what’s a parent to do? The simple answer is to worry less about explaining to your child, and spend more time modeling the fun of science: going on walks, mixing things, testing to see what will happen, observing carefully and wondering along with your child.

Science Is About Trying to Make Sense of the World
Science is not simply about knowing information—it is equally a way of trying to make sense of the world. Scientists must ask questions, design investigations, try to make sense of the information they have gathered during the investigations, and communicate and defend their thinking to others. They don’t always find the answers to their questions, and they don’t always agree.

Help Children Think Like Scientists
It is much more important for parents to help children develop the skills they need to think like scientists than to help them understand complex scientific concepts. Even the youngest children are quite capable of beginning to build these skills.

A Few Pointers
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you enjoy science alongside your child:

  • You don’t need to have answers for all of your child’s questions! Encourage your child to develop his own science thinking skills.
  • Listen carefully to your child. Engage her in conversation about what she thinks, and encourage her to explain why she thinks as she does by asking questions such as, “Why do you think the snail is eating that leaf?”
  • Don’t immediately correct your child. If your child says something scientifically incorrect, help her discover for herself what is correct rather than correcting her. For example, if she says “heavy things sink, you can ask her, “Which heavy things have you seen sink?” Or, “I wonder if we can find something heavy that can float?”
  • Model curiosity. Wonder aloud: “I wonder what will happen to this pudding mix when we put the water in?”
  • Children develop at different rates. Keep this in mind as you do science activities with your child, including those in this section. The activities suggested for various ages are intended to be followed generally, not strictly. Children develop at different rates, so not all will fit neatly into a specific age category.
  • Back to Science Tips

    • Rebecca Robinson

      My jackal/wolf cut-out likes second grade science. My jackal/wolf cut-out is three days old. My jackal/wolf cut-out likes first grade math. My jackal/wolf cut-out likes Kindergarten math. Someday my jackal/wolf cut-out will like “Barney and Friends”. My blue-eyed cat/horse cut-out likes “Barney and Friends”. She also likes “BabyFirst TV”. My jackal/wolf cut-out was made on December 13, 2013. My Alaskan Malamute cut-out was made on January 3, 2012. My jackal/wolf cut-out likes first grade reading.

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