- Children are born with innate STEM cognitive abilities who lose this natural ability without proper stimulation.
- STEM toys come in a variety of options that are affordable and for all children at any level.
- STEM toys for kids are not a fad. They are continually research-backed and proven to increase cognitive function.
STEM toys prepare our children for the future by stimulating and developing an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math early on in life.
Not only does it provide proper stimulation for our natural born scientists, but it’s teaching our children how to critically think, problem solve, interact with others, and develop emotionally.
Although there are so many benefits of providing your children with STEM toys, there are 3 lesser known benefits that are just as important to realize when you’re researching on how to develop your child’s cognitive skills through STEM toys. The earlier you introduce STEM toys to your kids, the more successful they’ll be in school and professionally.
Today, I’m going to talk about:
1. Children are Natural Scientists
We’re all born with innate STEM cognitive abilities. Even if we’re as young as a baby, we want to learn more, problem-solve, and enjoy challenges that provide rewarding feelings of success.
For example, putting the same shape block through the correct hole or stacking the same colored shapes together following a number pattern to create a picture.
Doing something that challenged us and then finding the solution creates confidence and teaches us many important skills like creative thinking, spatial reasoning, and critical evaluation.
The tricky part to this is that, as we get older and attend school, our innate abilities tied closely to STEM start to dissipate because we don’t continue to use and develop these skills in school and rarely at home through guided-play.
It’s similar to learning multiple languages when you’re an adolescent, it’s easy to pick up and learn, but it will be forgotten if not used.
There is a crucial difference between education at school and at home. Academic learning is where our children memorize, practice, count, and recite.
Whereas intellectual learning is where children develop reasoning, predicting, hypothesizing, and problem-solving skills.
This occurs through natural interaction with hands-on learning in their natural environment.
STEM toys for kids feed their natural desire to learn, experiment and creatively problem solve. STEM-based toys are designed to be introduced as early as possible, even in infancy.
This is so that our babies have proper “building blocks” of cognitive development. With that, they’ll have an interest in further developing, learning, and applying STEM techniques as they grow a passion for something like coding or engineering-based education.
At an early stage, pre-cognitive skills are developed which provides such a huge advantage in terms of education readiness and development as they enter grade school leading to college.
It’s so crucial to foster their development at a young age so they have the proper development to solve real-world problems they will face personally and professionally.
In fact, the earlier we introduce our children to STEM toys for STEM development, the better off they’ll be. After all, our children are natural born scientists with an interest to learn more.
The Center for Childhood Creativity reviewed over 150 empirical studies and found that “children are capable of remarkable problem solving from the earliest of years, with adult guidance and support they are able to harness their intrinsic STEM capacity to transform it into a lifelong STEM intelligence.”
2. STEM Toys for Kids Don’t Discriminate
STEM toys are for all children at any level of development. STEM toys for kids promote self-development through independent play, yet provide an open learning session in groups to develop emotional intelligence (EQ) too.
I’ve talked to a lot of moms in various groups or on playdates and I’ve learned that parents have this assumption that STEM toys are for “advanced” kids. Kids who show they’re above the average child in their class in math or science etc. But, that’s not the case at all.
In fact, some of those children may be advanced naturally, but most of them have parents who provide a learning environment outside of school.
They’ve learned about STEM toys and STEM activities for children too and incorporate that into their daily routine.
They work after school with their kids on reinforcing what they were taught in school and learn even more by providing age-appropriate STEM toys.
Kids need to practice using and developing these skills in order to become advanced and it always happens to those who practice outside of school.
STEM toys are for children of any ethnicity with either gender and for any age.
STEM toys aren’t promoted to just one gender unless it’s for girls. That’s to promote more girls to have an interest in these fields.
There may be gender-specific colors on toys, but you’ll see that boys and girls will engage with the toy they like based on the experience they’ve had, not on the color associated with it.
One of the reasons I chose to create BrickMates Stack by Numbers and Lock and Learn puzzles specifically was to provide an affordable STEM-based toy that all children can come together to “play” with as they develop crucial skills from it. It doesn’t matter where they came from or who they are.
A plus for us mamas is that we’ll never step on a puzzle piece because they all lock in place and require an easy push lever to release them.
Did you know that by providing STEM toys for your little one early on in life, it will help prevent anxiety-related feelings that many children experience when learning math and science?
We can help our kids foster a love of learning and a desire to engage in similar activities because they’ll be more than familiar with these subjects as they enjoyed it at a young age and are in familiar territory.
This is due to the development of the necessary building blocks of cognitive skills needed to advance in school.
Another important note to factor in is that STEM toy companies understand the importance of inclusion.
Girls are a minority in STEM fields, but that’s going to change as we’ve started to push our girls to continue to play with STEM toys no matter who stands next to them, even if they are the only girl.
This goes for underrepresented races too. Development of proper cognitive skills don’t discriminate and neither does love for learning.
In fact, by 2020, there will be a 16-20% increase of women in various STEM fields. Our children will be even more inspired knowing that anyone can be successful as long as they practice and challenge themselves.
Fostering the development before our children have reached middle school is extremely important. Research states that by the time our children enter 8th grade, they’re already avoiding science and math if they have no STEM background when they were younger.
3. Research-backed and Proven to Work
Albert Einstein once said, “Play is the highest form of research”. Playing is how children practice their newly found skill. Whether they’ve learned how important is it to share, behave, or solving problems, toys are an integral part of developing children’s behavioral and cognitive skills.
We don’t think about how we think, it’s a natural thing that we just do. This is part of developing the ability to articulate complex ideas which involve a lot of steps, like driving directions or recipes. You have learned that so well through practice, it has become second nature.
There are various stages of development to follow. In order for researchers to determine how STEM toys further development, they base their data on various theories that focus on where a child should be emotionally and cognitively for their age group.
For example, replacing screen time with STEM toys will drastically reduce the odds of your child having difficulties reading in the future. A study from JAMA Pediatrics showed, “early television exposure in younger than 3 years was associated with deleterious effects on cognitive development, such as reading recognition at 7 years old.”
There are so many great shows out there to help children learn, but this shouldn’t be the primary way. It keeps children from developing creativity which is necessary for problem-solving skills and STEM development.
Another scholarly book talks heavily about how play = learning and proper development. Finnish children score high on reading tests as they incorporate recess into their day. This helps release physical energy, allows proper exercise, which allows children to clear their mind and prepare for the rest of the day.
Recess includes physical exercise and free play. That could include puzzles, building blocks, or playing board games.
One of the benefits of STEM toys is the development of spatial intelligence. This is an important predictor in STEM intelligence as well.
It’s one of the most crucial skills to develop and lacks in our schools. Which is why it’s very important to provide our children with STEM toys.
Spatial intelligence is when a child has the ability to generate, retain, retrieve, and transform well-structured visual images. This is what Michelangelo used when he visualized a future sculpture trapped inside a lump of stone.
Did you know preschoolers who are better at visualizing spatial relationships develop stronger arithmetic skills in primary school? This is because they’re able to understand how shapes can move and turn, creating different images.
Which brings me to another easy and fun way for STEM development. Playing with Blocks!
Blocks stimulate creative and divergent problem-solving. Divergent problem-solving is when you have a problem that has a variety of ways to be solved. As compared to convergent thinking where you analyze data to find one solution to a problem.
So, since block play is a type of creative play with no rules, it enhances divergent thinking. It also helps them develop gross and fine motor skills along with hand-eye coordination, shape and color recognition, and learn geometry basics.
Early STEM learning has shown to affect career choices according to a 2018 report from the Institution of Engineers of Ireland. So, many core engineering traits and behaviors like curiosity, exploration, creativity, and problem-solving overlap with STEM.
By equipping our children, especially girls at a young age with toys that inspire them to develop these skills, they are more likely to stick with it as they grow.
It’s also well known among researchers that most young people with a desire to continue in the science field had these views formed during their primary years and were solidified by age 14.
By providing your child with STEM toys, you’re giving them the advantage to develop their cognitive abilities so that they have well-rounded intelligence which sets them up for success.
They will develop proper skills that will help them overcome any barriers they face in life whether it’s personal or professional.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on STEM toys in early development, comment below.