Bring Out the Scientist in Your Child
Young children are natural-born scientists. That doesn’t necessarily make sense if we think of scientists as people who wear lab coats and do mysterious things with beakers and Bunsen burners. But if we think of science as a process of exploration and discovery, we can see that almost everything about children’s early years qualifies them as scientists!
Of course, because body-part identification, awareness and understanding of the senses, and the discovery of the limitations and capabilities of the body and its parts fall under the content area of science, it can be said that every time a child moves he’s exploring scientific, as well as physical, concepts. His senses are conveying information to his brain and body. He’s experimenting with muscle tension. He’s experiencing changes in heartbeat and breathing. He’s figuring out where his body parts are and how to use them.
But there are also specific scientific concepts that are developmentally appropriate for young children to explore. In an earlier column I recommended letting your child “paint” the outside of the house with a brush and a bucket of water. That simple activity involves the scientific concept of evaporation. “Fun with Fruits and Vegetables” offers lessons in nutrition. The exercises recommended in “Help Your Child Relax” include awareness of the muscles and lungs.
Gravity is another scientific principle your child can – and does – explore. She may not yet be ready to grasp the concept (who among us does?), but she can experience it. For instance, gravity is involved when she jumps into the air and returns to the ground!