This post has been updated on February 16, 2020.
STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is an important group of subjects that are in high demand — not just in classrooms, but in the job market as well. As technology is increasingly used in the job market, we need to prepare our children for the employment landscape they’ll encounter in the future. In the upcoming decade, STEM jobs will grow at almost double the rate of all other jobs. The New York Times predicts that 65% of our elementary aged children will work in jobs that don’t even exist yet, thanks to technological advances.
That’s why it’s baffling that the majority of schools still don’t teach many STEM skills, such as computer programming. As digital natives, this generation of children and teenagers are growing up while surrounded by technology. It’s a safe bet that technology won’t be going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s crucial for solving many of the world’s problems — and our children’s generation will be the one with the power to do just that.
As a parent, you probably want your child to learn these skills but perhaps you’re uncertain of where to start. If your school district can’t afford the latest technology or doesn’t include STEM curriculum, don’t worry; you still have options as a parent.
Here are some of our favorite online learning technologies, tools, and e-learning resources for teaching STEM skills to children:
According to international STEM camp provider iD Tech, the best way to prepare your child for a future STEM career is by giving him or her “a strong foundation of skills beyond what traditional education provides.”
Rather than relying on your child’s science teacher to teach science skills, boost your child’s knowledge with at-home education. A quick Google search provides countless ideas for activities, games, courses, and experiments you can do at home.
Technology & Engineering
Like learning to read, write, or speak in a new language, learning to code teaches children “new ways of organizing their thinking, new ways of expressing ideas,” says MIT’s Mitchel Resnik, who helped develop the free apps, Scratch and ScratchJr, which teach children ages 5 years and older how to code. As of today, ScratchJr’s free app, which is available on the Apple Store, has been used by millions of families with rave reviews.
Older children, adolescents and teenagers might prefer TechRocket. Geared towards ages 10 to 18 years, TechRocket is another popular online resource for learning STEM skills including computer coding, video game development, and design. With topics ranging from Minecraft to 3D printing to Adobe Photoshop, your child or teen stands a good chance of finding a course that interests them.
You’ll never use those algebra skills in the real world.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Mathematics skills can be applied to many real life situations. For instance, math is a critical foundation for almost any career path, not just scientific ones. Graphic artists use geometric shapes. Designers use formulas when building websites or apps. Entrepreneurs use math for billing, invoicing, pricing their services, and paying their employees.
You get the idea. Whether your child loves math or is interested in picking up some new skills, there are many online lessons teaching real-world math skills. For instance, you might check out some of the math education resources on this site. You could teach your child about financial planning or spark an interest in architectural design, both of which are real-world jobs that draw upon mathematics skills.
It’s important to note that the classes listed above teach more than just STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills. Some of the classes also include elements of art and design, helping boost your child’s creativity while engaging both hemispheres of the brain.
Many of the other classes help your child build a project from start to finish, such as a website or video game. By doing so, these classes help teach project management, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Regardless of your child’s areas of interest, these are all skills that will prove helpful in any future career.
Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.