What are STEM toys and 6 ways they can benefit your child?
As parents, we all want our children to grow up with a love of learning. The best way to foster this is to encourage children's natural curiosity. That's where STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) toys come in.
Before we get into what STEM toys are, let us briefly introduce ourselves. We are members of the Kočevje Wood Festival cooperative, which after two years, with the help of the Museum of Architecture and Design, introduced the wooden construction toy Konstrukta (designed by designer Niko Kralj) to the market, which was also labelled as a "Good Toy". We hereby take the liberty of raising awareness on this topic and invite you to read on.
What are STEM toys?
STEM toys are a great tool for introducing your little one to the fundamental concepts of science, technology, engineering and maths. Playing with them is also a great way to stimulate your child's natural curiosity. These types of toys incorporate science, technology, engineering and math concepts in an engaging way that is fun for kids of all ages. Including you, dear parents.
We have all played with Lego bricks. Our children have too - with the very ones we dug out of the cupboards. Our parents knew they would come in handy one day. It is just a pity that many of us did not choose to develop the skills that such toys encourage later in life. It is said that these science, scientific and technical techniques are a real "fun-fest" for many adults. So say studies. Well, dear parents and educators, you will now be able to see that this is not the case. Let's move on...
STEM toys are more about active play, which means that children interact with toys in a whole new way. These types of toys are designed to encourage active and interactive engagement that inspires children to discover more about the world and themselves. According to experts, it is never too early to expose young children to STEM-related concepts through play.
Here are the top 6 reasons why you should start investing in STEM toys for your children now.
#1: STEM toys dispel the myth that STEM subjects are too hard
Did you know that many adults don't choose STEM-related careers because they think the field is too hard? This misconception can have a negative impact on the way children view these subjects and can lead them to believe that careers in these fields are out of reach. STEM toys can dispel these misconceptions by helping children to see how many STEM-related concepts are more manageable than they may seem.
Exposure to STEM concepts from an early age through toys can help increase children's confidence in learning these subjects. When children engage in these activities, it helps them to realise that mastery of maths and science are achievable goals.
#2: STEM toys encourage creative thinking
What better way than to encourage children to stretch their imagination and create something new and different? Engaging in STEM-focused activities provides children with plenty of opportunities to think creatively, helping them to develop skills in problem solving, spatial reasoning, engineering concepts, etc. It also helps children to build confidence in their own achievements and inspires them to keep learning.
#3: STEM toys develop cognitive skills
STEM toys can enrich children's developing cognitive skills such as their logical reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking abilities. STEM activities teach children more than just memorising facts and figures. Children learn valuable skills that are useful throughout their lives. They provide many opportunities for children to think critically, evaluate a problem and find the best approach or solution. This makes their lives much easier as they discover the world (without their parents).
#4: STEM toys improve fine motor skills
Another benefit of using STEM toys is that they provide opportunities for children to improve their eye-hand skills and coordination. Building with blocks and doing puzzles can help improve children's fine motor skills and increase their confidence in their physical and intellectual abilities.
#5: STEM toys make learning fun
Who says learning has to be boring? If children play with STEM toys, they are more likely to approach these subject areas with interest and enthusiasm. They are also more likely to associate science and maths with a greater sense of freedom, fun and discovery. Whether children are learning basic maths concepts or building a complex science project, STEM toys can turn learning and play into a fun experience.
#6: STEM toys are great for connecting parents and children
Sometimes as parents we forget that we also play a key role in our children's development. Studies show that parents who are regularly involved in their children's education have children with higher academic results. So why not do some hands-on experiments with your child at home using simple tools at home (maybe even water bottles)? As well as being a great way to learn interactively, it's also a great way to bring parents and children together in a fun way, as it brings the whole family together.
Are you a bad parent if you haven't offered your child a STEM toy yet?
Of course not! It's never too early and it's never too late to introduce your toddler or child to STEM topics. The development and importance of toys has changed significantly in recent years, so it's normal that many parents are hearing about the subject for the first time.
That's why we decided to raise awareness. We don't expect you to buy a whole wardrobe of STEM toys today, but it's more important to start thinking about it and shake off any fear you may have of science topics. Above all, give your child the opportunity to learn about different skills, master them and decide for themselves if it's something they love.
As mentioned above, you can also get to know Konstrukta, our home-made toy, made in Slovakia, from our wood! It has elements of a STEM toy, stimulates the imagination and is guaranteed to entertain the whole family (and not just for a few minutes). To find out more about it, click here.
In case you're not interested, it's okay if you don't click the link. We just want you to learn something new today and we'd love it if you shared it with your friends (other parents).
See you next time,
The Festival of Wood team