- Reducing screen time and replacing with STEM puzzles for kids aids in better cognitive and social skills, and emotional stability. In fact, for every negative side effect of screen time, STEM-certified puzzles show to do the exact opposite. Screen time causes anxiety, depression, reduces cognitive function, and social skills.
- Playing STEM puzzles at home is just as important as learning in school. Kids who continue with educational activities at home foster a love for learning, enjoy challenges and are more likely to have balanced IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence).
- There is a STEM initiative to support girls and those of lower-income families. Non-profits and woman-owned businesses are creating STEM-certified puzzles, toys, and activities that are engaging for girls. Support from educators and parents is the most important though.
STEM Puzzles For Kids
Focus on why they reduce screen time and quickly develop age-appropriate skills
It’s no secret that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills are essential to academic and professional success.
However, our children lose interest in these topics especially girls and those of color due to various reasons.
Some aren’t in our control. The good news is there are plenty of things that are in our control and have the greatest impact.
I’m going to explain what you can do to set your little one up for success no matter who they are.
STEM Puzzles for Kids Reduce Screen Time
You’re probably thinking my child loves watching YouTube videos and streaming videos on devices. They’re educational and they keep him or her quiet and busy when I most need it.
Now there is nothing wrong with educational shows.
However, screen time is not recommended for children under 2 years old because of the negative side effects associated with it.
Plus, children under 11 shouldn’t be on a screen for more than 2 hours a day (depending on age)
Here are a few serious negative effects:
- Sleep problems: Although many parents use TV to wind down before bed, screen time before bed can backfire. The light emitted from screens interferes with the sleep cycle in the brain and can lead to insomnia.
- Behavior problems: Elementary school-age children who watch TV or use a computer more than two hours per day are more likely to have emotional, social, and attention problems.
- Educational problems: Elementary school-age children who have televisions in their bedrooms do worse on academic testing.
- More likely to have anxiety and depression: young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who use screens for an hour a day.
- Loss of social skills
- Irregular sleep schedules and shorter duration of sleep or quality of sleep.
Most importantly, it hurts our relationship with them.
Research shows children feel unimportant and unwanted just as much as we do in personal relationships when we see someone we care about always on their phone.
Leading by example is an awesome start to help your little one spend less time on the screen and more time building positive habits that will prepare them for a prosperous future.
A new study found that limiting children’s screen time to two hours a day can improve brain function.
After I learned more about how screen time hurts our kids that’s when it hit me…
For every negative effect described above, STEM puzzles for kids show just the opposite!
Not only are they very engaging “toys” in the view of a child, but it helps them develop:
- Patience: Patience and the ability to fail and keep going is extremely important in order to be a good problem-solver.
- Cognitive skills: Improvements in lateral thinking, analytical thinking, problem-solving, and so much more than I’ll dive deeper in the next section.
- Emotional intelligence: Anger, frustration, and excitement are all normal feelings, it’s how we express them that shows emotional intelligence.
- Improves social skills: Even if your child plays with STEM puzzles by themselves or with someone, they’re learning how to communicate to lead a newbie or work together.
- Increase attention span: Children sit longer over time as they play with puzzles. It’s challenging which keeps them wanting to “solve” it and get it right.
- Better sleep cycle: They are mentally tired in a good way and its a good quiet time activity before bed.
Let’s get into more detail on what skills are developed while your child is having fun.
That’s one of the core values of STEM: fun and multi-educational all in one.
Want to learn exactly how to reduce screen time with little to no fights? Read this blog.
Quickly Develop Age-appropriate Skills
Elementary and pre-school aged children love STEM-based activities.
Here’s where we hit a snag.
Research shows children lose interest in STEM starting by third grade, by eighth grade it’s over.
That’s because they don’t have the foundation of how to learn and absorb information related to the STEM field. It becomes overwhelming and frustrating.
Children and adults avoid things they don’t understand, things that aren’t “fun”, or things that are too challenging.
If we don’t implement these types of educational toys when they’re young and at home, the odds are building up against them for their future.
That’s why it’s extremely important to start introducing STEM puzzles for your kids now.
The best thing you can do is support them in their journey of learning what they like and don’t like by ensuring they’re playing with a toy that is developmentally appropriate for them.
Playing with these at home is just as important as learning in school. Kids who continue with educational activities at home foster a love for learning, enjoy challenges and are more likely to have good IQ and EQ (emotional intelligence).
Here are some developmentally age-appropriate skills for:
- Fine motor skill development: Being able to pick up puzzles, flip them, and push them down to “snap” into place. Here’s a good blog on how to build motor skills.
- Hand-eye coordination: By picking up objects using their thumb and forefinger. Stacking objects and knocking them down, and make scribbles with crayons.
- Developing visual acuity helps us discriminate details in what we see too. The input is processed in our brains which sends signals to muscles to move to a specific location by eye movement and focus.
- Gross motor skills: Using larger puzzle pieces and stacking them on a plain baseboard in the right spots helps them with handwriting for example. Handwriting activates the brain more than keyboarding because it involves more complex motor and cognitive skills. Handwriting contributes to reading fluency because it activates the visual perception of letters.
- Visual-spatial awareness: Ability to see how objects fit into 3D space or pattern. STEM puzzles allow your child to practice their problem-solving skills by recreating patterns of imagining how different pieces can fit into a given space.
- Shape recognition: Your child recognizes shapes before knowing their names. By practicing with shapes it helps them understand the real world around them.
- Knowledge of shapes gives young children an advantage in many areas like literacy so they recognize similar numbers and letters that most may confuse.
- Comparing differences and opposites in objects helps them with language skills and science. Observation and categorization are key skills for science.
- Problem-solving: Shape sorting helps them recognize how to solve the STEM puzzle. As they learn the difference between rectangles and squares, they will “snap” the piece into place and know it fits perfectly.
- Engineering skills: Engineering provides an overlooked opportunity to teach kids how to work together and solve problems at a very young age. These skills empower them for their future when the stakes are much higher.
- Math skills
- Spatial awareness: Well-developed spatial awareness is also linked to successful skills in reading and math as well as artistic creativity.
- Children who lack adequate spatial skills may have problems with reading and writing or maybe clumsy but may also have strong auditory memory and verbal comprehension skills.
- Memory: If your child remembers something you’ve said a week ago that you didn’t want to be repeated, you may be okay in this area already.
- Emotional/social skills: Be cooperative, use direct requests like “please stop”, chat more, and pretend play. Strategic bargaining, understand a fair play and good sportsmanship. They’re also empathetic and responsive to those who are sad they lost a game, hurt by a friend, or fell on the ground and is crying.
Even though we’ve talked about some of the life skills needed for the future, we still have a problem.
Two questions to ask yourself:
- Are the puzzles at home STEM-certified? Beware of “stem-washing”. That’s where every company puts “STEM” all over their packaging because parents love it. If they certified, they will have the authenticated badge on it. Check out the badge on the picture below:
- If your child hates puzzles were they appropriate for them? If not, that’s why they’re avoiding it too.
Did you know STEM puzzles cater to any gender and all children? That’s their goal.
Plenty of research shows girls are less likely to get involved with STEM activities and education later on because they are the minority.
STEM Puzzles Don’t Discriminate
There is a huge STEM initiative to get girls more involved with STEM education and learning at a young age.
At a young age, it’s so important too.
Research shows that the gender gap starts then and grows as they age.
Some of the reasons why girls avoid STEM is because:
- peer pressure
- lack of role models and support from parents as well as teachers
- general misperception of what STEM careers look like in the real world
The best way to support girls and encourage STEM puzzles and other activities are:
- Providing teachers with a more engaging and relatable STEM curriculum, such as 3D and hands-on projects, the kinds of activities that have proven to help retain girls’ interest in STEM over the long haul.
- Increasing the number of STEM mentors and role models – including parents – to help build young girls’ confidence that they can succeed in STEM.
- Creating inclusive classrooms and workplaces that value female opinions. It’s important to celebrate the stories of women who are in STEM right now, today.
Non-profits around the world are working to level the playing field by creating camps, after-school programs, and offering content for parents to work with their kids at home.
It helps so much too when companies like BrickMates® go out of their way to get STEM-certified.
That way it’s one less of a hassle to ensure you’re getting what you think you are! Toys like Stack by Numbers have something for everyone to get them engaged and learn at the same time
STEM around the globe is purposely trying to extend their reach to all children, especially those from lower-income families too.
Girls love STEM, but they were intimidated until recently.
Times have changed and now this mama has created STEM puzzles for girls and boys. Especially as I have two daughters of my own.
Supporting them and giving them equal opportunity to foster a love for education is the best thing I can do as a mom and so can you!
4 reasons to have STEM puzzles for girls:
- Women are equally capable as men and should feel that way.
- They can get jobs that are paid high if they master the concepts in STEM.
- Women must shine in all fields and be a role model for the upcoming generation.
- They can feel empowered to be at par with their men counterparts.
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