If you’re a parent or teacher, you’ve heard about the importance of STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math learning for kids. We often talk about how family dinners can boost kids’ grades and improve their literacy skills. But can family dinner also have an impact on STEM learning? And what can families do to ensure that mealtimes open kids’ minds to curiosity in the math and science fields?
Researchers have discovered that when parents engage kids in math-related activities and conversations at home, math scores rise. You don’t have to use flash cards and drill-and-kill methods; making math fun and using it in hands-on, practical ways is more likely to get the result you want (a kid who feels comfortable with math skills AND enjoys family dinner without the pressure of pop quizzes). But many of us don’t think of ourselves as “math/science people,” so we may not feel comfortable engaging our kids around STEM topics the same way we do with word games and creative play. Fortunately, there are lots of simple ways to make STEM a part of your family time, whether you’re a “STEM person” or not!
Just like any other subject, kids can be encouraged to become more interested in — and comfortable with — STEM learning if parents set a good example by making it a part of everyday life. Science and math are all around us, even at the family dinner table!
This month, we’d like to introduce you to a family dinner community in Arlee, Montana. Our work with No Kid Hungry has resulted in a wonderful partnership to bring meaningful mealtimes to the residents of Arlee through the Arlee Community Development Corporation, and we’re pleased to be able to share their experiences.
Introduce kids to simple chemical reactions by making pickles! This pickled tomato recipe is an unusual twist on a familiar idea.
Make math fun with a dice game you can play while you eat!
We asked our friend Chris Woods, teacher and creator of The Daily STEM, to help us create this list of fun STEM-related conversation starters.