STEM – Why is it important in Early Years?

Not that long ago, I wrote a brief blog explaining what STEM meant, you can find it here.  Today I’m going to list the reasons why I think it is an important area to work on in Early Years.  I’m going to make a special effort not to waffle on for ages, so I’m going to keep it to shortish bullet points!

  • STEM subjects are criminally under represented in the EYFS.  For subjects that give children a greater understanding of the world around them, it seems important to me at least that this is something we spend more time on.  And I don’t mean telling them things, I mean supporting them in investigating the world around them!
  • The children we are working with today are going to grow into jobs that we can’t even imagine now.  Their understanding of technology is vital to making sure they can achieve in that world.  Simply knowing that ‘information can be retrieved from computers’ just doesn’t cut it for me.  I believe we should be introducing the basics of programming, working on multiple devices and software and dealing with the complexities of the internet.  Yup, even with 3-4 year olds!
  • Lots of nurseries are working on some version of in the moment planning, we know this as we have been helping with it.  I am a firm believer that supporting the children investigating their interests is the best in the moment planning you can do.  Noted, it isn’t easy, and resourcing can be a challenge, but the science methodology fits fantastically well with this method of planning.
  • You may have noticed that the workforce in Early Years is a little lacking in diversity when it comes to gender.  The impact of this on STEM subjects is complicated, and probably too much to get into here, but women are underrepresented in these subjects, and it’s therefore reasonable to assume these subjects are under represented among the Early Years workforce as a whole.  And if we’re not sharing a subject with the children from an early age, then they are missing out!

I’m going to leave it at that.  If you are in any doubt that you should be getting excited about STEM, then make sure to come and speak to me if you bump into me at an event, it’s always nice to convince another person!  Next up, I’ll be taking a look at how I would include these subjects in my practice.

About the author: Matt Stanford

Matt Stanford
Matt has been working in education for over 10 years, teaching science to all ages from preschool to degree. Before he became a teacher he studied chemistry at Masters level and completed his PhD at The University of Warwick. It was during his time at university that he got involved in outreach work in local primary schools and found his passion for inspiring learning.

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