13 Oct Why Early Childhood Science Education is Important
Jenni Vartiainen is a researcher in Helsinki University. She is also founder of KIDE Science that is exporter of Finnish early childhood science education. This company is based on the research made by Jenni and her team on young children using science and how they learn through play. KIDE is now spreading this childhood science education using these Finnish methods around the world.
How We Should Use Technology with Kids?
Jenni thinks we should be thinking on how we use the digital devices, what kids do with them. We should not be concentrating on are they good or bad for the user. Technology can bring advantages to user who cannot write as yet like in early childhood education. It is important that kids learn to document their progress on science-based education and this can be done using digital technology.
Is Digital Technology Dangerous to Kids?
Jenni feels that digital technology should be considered as a tool
“Consider digital technology as a tool like a pencil.”
There is more that you can do with them and we should not see them as a threat. You can record, search and document with them. It is important we teach kids to use digital information technology on a safe manner from the beginning. Jenni does not feel there is a threat on using ipads for fun sometimes.
Why Playing with Kids is so Important?
Children learn through play. They ask questions, they notice things we adults do not even think about. Children ask what is that place? It is the swimming pool. Is there water there? Yes of course. Where does the water come from? You realize when you are observing the conversation that the questions continue and parents are running out of answers.
Parents think they need to have a scientific answers to every question when it should be more important to explain the scientific phenomenon to them. Kids do not understand the scientific explanations the way adults do. However, if we start asking questions, observing the experiences about for example rainbow, water and what happens when rainbow emergences this will satisfy their curiosity.
How Has Scientific Education Changed in Finland?
Jenni says that in Finland there has always been high-level scientific education. There has been curriculum reform recently where kids learn through different phenomenon. Few times a year kids have a wider phenomenon that they study through different subjects, problem solving, solutions and this has helped to make science more practical for kids.
In early science education in Finland there is emphasis to basic science skills. Observation, measurement, forensics and making conclusions are part of the early childhood curriculum in Finland. These basic skills are started early and are basis of any scientific skills needed later on in life.
In episode 48 that I talk about Finnish School versus Australian education that explains some of the differences and why Finnish Education is first class.
How KIDE Product Was Created?
Jenni was running science clubs as part of her Phd. studies and when the learning environment they had created came to end parents were uproar about this. They wanted their kids to continue scientific early childhood education.
She then suggested to another teacher if they could make this work as a business. Quickly they realised that they needed professional help to set up the company and run it. This lead KIDE been established as a company and they had business professionals join the team.
Why Did KIDE Decide to Expand to Overseas?
KIDE did not want to go to Asia first. However, there was lots of requests to go and talk in different forums in Asia and they soon discovered that the market was ready for them in Asia. I agreed that it makes perfect sense as STEM is a big thing in Asian culture and the school curriculum.
Importance of STEM education has been raising recently globally. People are waking up on climate change, we are producing too much carbon dioxide, we see the plastic that we are dumping to the ocean. People have a need to understand better on what we are doing to our planet.
“If you take one part away the whole system will collapse”
Parents are forced to look for answers as kids are asking questions and parents might not know where to look. STEM education has a place trying to explain these phenomenon to kids.
How Can Parents Get Kids Involved into Science Education?
Pay attention to kid’s questions don’t necessary answers all questions but make experiments. For example, soap and bubbles, make kids to observe the colour, shape, size etc. Observe these experiments with your kids and soon you find you are playing with you kids.
Not every parent naturally knows how to play with kids, but these scientific experiments force you to engage with your child in a different manner and learn with them together.
Partnering with HEI School Concept
This partnership with Finnish early childhood education business that exports this concept overseas is mutually beneficial. HEI Schools are based on early childhood learning and research done in Finland, Helsinki University. They share same ideologic and pedagogic approach to early childhood and this common ground makes it easier to work together on this field.
Where is KIDE Heading Next?
There are no new locations on the cards but new ways to enhance the early science education with teachers. This exciting innovative approach KIDE is creating will be launched this year.
KIDE is looking for new partners to expand in Australia and Jenni is making a call out to anyone who is interested on launching after school science club to contact them further.
Follow Kide Science and Jenni in
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