Looking To the Future Job Market Filled with S.T.E.M.

fwfgAfter the last economic downturn where the world saw unemployment rates jump to the highest levels in decades it could be argued that perhaps, society may be disproportionately identifying the need for today’s youth to delve deeply into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects.

Few could argue the fact that getting children involved in after school courses that introduce them to things like robots and computer programming languages would certainly give them an advantage when deciding on a career – but should that really be the ultimate goal of encouraging children to become more involved with STEM subjects?

To most, the short answer would be a resounding yes – in truth, the eternal pragmatist would likely look at the short and long term job projections for the tech industry (projections that clearly illustrate an impending gap between the number of jobs relative to the number of highly-skilled professionals capable of filling them) and be glad for any opportunity to provide their children with the necessary background to pursue one of these careers; but perhaps there’s more to it than that.

STEM subjects help children to better understand the evolving world around them, an understanding that goes beyond merely excelling in a lucrative career. Enhanced learning in these subjects help to stretch one’s mind, improving things like imagination, creativity, and problem solving.

So How Do You Introduce Your Children to These Subjects?

Truth be told, schools are doing a great job in promoting the importance of STEM subjects, but there are so many other opportunities out there that can help nurture and grow your child’s curiosities. Naturally, most kids are opposed to sitting through more school after school – so many STEM centered programs are thinking outside the box in terms of delivering their teaching objectives.

Why Your Child Should Participate in the Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is a global movement that is dedicated to exposing school-aged children to the world of coding in an educational and perhaps most importantly, in a fun way. In just a few short years since its inception, the HoC has introduced coding to more than 100,000 classrooms worldwide and has received praise from the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama.

Through the HoC, children learn the basics of programming through fun “drag and drop” tutorials. What’s helped to make the Hour of Code such a global success in such a short time is that the programs can be hosted by anyone. Furthermore, the beauty of a program like the HoC is that it is largely self-directed by the students themselves, requiring very little prep work by already heavily taxed educators and parents.

Aside from learning programming, the HoC helps children to think about the cause and effect relationship between a command and its execution. It also helps to teach attention to detail and patience (skills that can be heavily leveraged in a myriad of other disciplines). All that considered, arguably the best feature about such a program is that it can be supplemented by other activities that will encourage open-minded and curiosity.

Help Your Child Develop a STEM Mindset

As a parent, there’s a great deal you can do to encourage your child to develop a STEM mindset.

Encourage them to ask questions about the world around them, or ask them what they think something is. It’s important to have these types of back and forth conversations with your child from an early age. Even if the question seems simplistic, take it as an opportunity to have a larger dialogue with your child – it will help them to add context to the world around them.

Use television as a learning tool. Just because the television is on, doesn’t mean it has to be set to a station that adheres to a strict policy of mindless programming. Some stations are devoted to educational programming with STEM subjects at their core. So the next time you’re looking for something to watch with your child, consider an entertaining documentary.

Do you have access to a museum? If so, consider going as a family sometimes – particularly if they feature interactive, hands-on exhibits.

Finally, search your community for other STEM-centered activities for your child. If older, you could enroll your child in an online technology course.

When it comes right down to it, STEM subjects are incredibly important. While exposing your child to them early and often there’s a good chance that it will lead them to an exciting and cutting edge career; worst case scenario, you’ve helped to provide your child with the skills necessary to understand the world around them – and that’s pretty great too.

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