Charlotte is an educational leader at Sky Tree Kids Early Learning Centre, QLD, with five years’ experience in early childhood education. Her professional interest is in the development of children’s brains and how different learning styles and approaches can impact children differently.
Charlotte believes that STEM is so important in the early years because it encourages children to ask questions about their world: “STEM provides endless opportunities for collaborative environments, drives children’s natural inquisitiveness, and allows them to get familiar with scientific processes in a playful way. It’s important that they learn how to be part of decision-making so they can stimulate their thought processes and find that sense of achievement that makes them eager to learn and enjoy learning.”
To encourage a colleague who was unsure about their abilities to implement STEM learning, Charlotte would explain that their role is to be the facilitator of the activity. She believes that all educators already have the skills to empower children through providing prompts and encouragement. By letting the children lead the activity and their own learning, educators can provide a high-quality learning experience.
Outdoor play provides the most special opportunities to have STEM conversations in Charlotte’s experience. She explains that her team often asks questions about the world such as the animals they see and the weather and how it affects everyone. It gives educators the tools to extend the children’s natural inquisitiveness towards their surroundings.
In Charlotte’s experience in the infant room, STEM activities are great to build the children’s physical and cognitive development. She has conducted a hot and cold experiment where the children got to feel the cold ice compared to the warm water that was poured over the top. She talked about how the ice was melting and the children kept trying to pick it up, but it would slip from their hands. The children used their problem-solving skills to find that they needed to use both of their hands to hold the ice steady to not drop it.
Through providing inquiry-based STEM activities, Charlotte has learned that silence is just as good as discussion. She realised that she was explaining what the children were doing during the experiment too much and distracting them from being able to have free rein. Following her reflection on this practice, she now just lets the children “be” during their activities.