A good science education is not limited to the wall’s of your child’s school. There is a lot you can do as a parent to foster your child’s interest in science and encourage success in the classroom. Supportive parents are an essential component to successful students, especially when it comes to math and science.
In recent years, the U.S. has started to lag behind other nations in standardized test scores for math and science. While this is not the only measure of success in the sciences, it is an important factor to consider. In an interview with CNN, Michigan State University Distinguished Professor Bill Schmidt mentions the attitudes of American parents as one of the three main factors American students are falling behind the rest of the world on science-based standardized tests, “in this country, parents accept the fact… Well, in other countries, they just don't accept that. They believe that it's important for all children to learn mathematics and science, and that they can learn mathematics and science." (http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-12/us/education.schmidt_1_science-education-international-tests-mathematics?_s=PM:US)
Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to help your child succeed when it comes to his or her science education. The Department of Education has a helpful guide for parents who want to foster science education, including this important reminder, “Scientific knowledge is cumulative: To learn new things, you must build on what you already know. So, it's important that your child start learning early—and at home.” http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/science/part_pg4.html#p4
As your children grow and enter school, there are a number of ways you can continue to stay involved and encourage your children to learn more on their own. The National Science Teachers Association offers an in-depth look (http://www.nsta.org/sciencematters/tips.aspx) at a few of the things busy parents can do to aid their children’s science education, including:
- Lead family discussions on science-related topics.
- Explore nonformal education sites.
- Connect science with a family vacation.
- Become active in your children's formal education by getting to know the teacher and the curriculum.
- Show excitement for science.
Many parents who are not well-versed in science themselves, want to help their children’s education, but do not know where to start. There is no need to fear. There are a lot of resources out there to help parents who want to help their children succeed in math and science.
The organization ESTEME (Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education) has this helpful list of resources: http://www.esteme.org/Families/index.html. The science-fair project website Science Buddies (http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/parent_resources.shtml?From=Tab) has a lot of useful tips for parents, including this important reminder, “If you think you need to know a lot about science to help your children with their science fair project, relax, because you don’t! Offering support and encouragement, proofreading research papers, and attending the science fair are just a few ways you can make a difference.”
There are a lot of ways to aid your child’s science education. It starts with encouragement and goes wherever you want to take it.