Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
If you are a parent to a young child, it’s fun to imagine what career they’ll be undertaking in 20 years or so. It’s fun to get their opinion, too. What do they want to be? Astronaut? Pilot? Vet?
The truth, however, is that many of our kids will be starting their working life in a job we’re only just beginning to imagine. Some of today’s careers will vanish while some will remain (we’ll always need doctors, right?) but will evolve as technology develops further. Other brand new career options will appear, too.
Here’s what experts in STEM education in Dubai predict for the future.
A Future in STEM
The vast majority of new careers will be related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). For today’s working generation, STEM has already opened up countless exciting career opportunities in these fields. AI and robotics, IT, aerospace, medicine, and climate science are just a few examples of areas where people are working right now in interesting, rewarding and well-paid jobs. And the list of STEM job titles will just keep getting longer.
STEM careers evolve rapidly thanks to investment, research and fast updating technology. For example, working in IT today can mean many more things than it did 30 years ago. Think about cybersecurity specialists, app developers, and web analysts — these are popular careers that didn’t exist at all back then. Even just five years ago, the picture looked quite different. For example, in medicine, new lines of diagnostics and treatment have led to a demand for new but highly trained staff in nuclear medicine and genetics.
The argument for encouraging your child to take an early interest in STEM subjects is strong when it comes to preparing them well for the future.
Why start early?
The study of STEM through school and into the college years will help prepare your child for a career in one of these areas. If your child is still a toddler or baby, that time is still a long way off. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to wait to get your child interested in the wonders of STEM. Cultivating this interest and curiosity early on is vital if you want to encourage your child to take the path towards a STEM career. And there are plenty of ways to do it.
Here are important reasons why encouraging a love of STEM from the earliest of ages will pay off:
1. Because young children are incredibly curious
Babies and toddlers are innately curious. If you watch them play with even the simplest toys, you can see that they are trying to make sense of their world. Give the youngest child wooden building blocks, for example, and they’ll experiment with bashing them together, observing the noise that they make. Toddlers may investigate how best to stack them to make the tallest tower.
These are young scientists, engineers and mathematicians at work, making observations, experimenting, testing ideas, and making sense of it all. The more we nurture these skills now, the more inclined our children will be to continue developing them.
2. Because “The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid”
This quote from German philosopher Thomas A. Kempis illustrates perfectly why children benefit so much from higher-quality early education. In fact, children who start formal school with a strong foundation in the STEM subjects, particularly math, tend to do better than their peers throughout their school careers.
One study by researchers from the University of Denver has even found that “early knowledge of math not only predicts later success in math, but also predicts later reading achievement even better than early reading skills.”
So, the more STEM knowledge and skills to be gained by preschoolers, the more they’ll benefit later in life.
3. Because you can help accelerate the development of soft skills
When your child experiments, plays with STEM-inspired toys, and takes part in STEM activities, then they are developing a whole range of skills that will benefit them in the future, no matter what career they go on to choose.
Confidence, problem-solving ability, and adaptability are all vital non-career specific skills that are brought on through STEM activities.
How do I inspire my young child and help them get a head start with STEM?
There are many ways you can help inspire your child to love STEM and start to build the foundations of STEM skills.
1. Use STEM language as often as possible
Getting accustomed to basic mathematical and scientific language is a vital early building block. Try to use these words as much as possible around your child and encourage them to use them, too.
For example, talk about toys and simple items around your home in terms of how many there are, how heavy/light they are, how they are shaped, and how they compare with others.
You could use language like, “Which is the heaviest block? How many blocks are in your tower? Which block is square and which is rectangular?”
2. Read STEM-based books
Look in your local bookstore or library and you are bound to find plenty of books that help children increase their STEM vocabulary or encourage an interest in STEM topics. Here are the kinds of books to look out for:
- Books that involve numbers and counting
- Books that teach shape names
- Books about people who work in STEM (i.e., vets, doctors, astronauts, etc.)
- Books about robots
- Books about space
- Both fiction and non-fiction that might inspire an interest in any kind of vehicle
For all these categories, there should be something age-appropriate for your child, even in baby board book form.
A great option for babies and toddlers are the Baby University book series. There are so many different books that explain complicated STEM topics in easy to understand ways for babies and toddlers. Parents may even brush up on their organic chemistry, rocket science and quantum physics.
3. Encourage your baby or toddler to investigate their world
Here are some fun activities that will help develop your young child’s curious nature:
- Water play. Investigate sinking and floating.
- Color mixing. Play with paints and find out what happens when you mix colors.
- Build bridges and ramps together to support toy vehicles.
- Build with bricks. Lego is an amazing educational resource that your child can grow up with. It inspires STEM play, from engineering the simplest structures in toddlerhood through to robotics for older children.
- Play with your shadows. Shadow puppets are amazing to behold.
- Get out the bubbles for some cool chemistry fun.
- For your child’s first piece of scientific equipment, give your child a magnifying glass and encourage them to investigate anything and everything.
As you can see from these activities, introducing the world of STEM to your baby or toddler is fun. It builds on their natural curiosities. It’s also hugely beneficial to their future progress in school. What’s more, it may well set them up for the most amazing career.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.