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It may be a challenge to persuade many children about the importance of math and science in their future, but it is worth making an effort. One sobering fact is that while interest in and performance in math and science subjects is waning in schools, the demand for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-related careers is increasing, and there is even a shortage in some areas.
Science and math-related careers don’t necessarily involve intense specialization or advanced degrees, but many can be pursued with a certificate or a few years of higher education. Engaging children in science and math topics, fostering a tendency to ask questions and providing guidance to students who may be having difficulty in math and science can have a positive impact on their present and future.
According to a Department of Education survey, just 16% of American high school students expressed an interest in mathematics, and 28% said they wanted to pursue a future career in science, although 57% of that number would drop that interest by their senior year. Sluggish performance among U.S. students matches this dearth of interest in these subjects. According to Pew research, high school students in the United States ranked 38th out of 71 industrialized and developing countries in mathematics and 24th out of 71 in science.
Ironically, the low interest and mediocre performance in math and science are occurring at a time when there has never been so much demand for science, math, technology and engineering graduates to fill jobs in computing, engineering. There are shortages in many industries and increased demand. Over half of these jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Job security, a stable income and the opportunity to choose between companies competing for workers are distinct advantages STEM students have.
It is not hard to understand the advantages a science and math-based education can provide for today’s students. It may be harder to persuade young people that STEM education is something they should focus on and want to do with their lives. Talking with children about science, involving them in enrichment activities, and providing tutoring and guidance to take the difficulty out of math and science subjects can encourage kids to make educational choices that will have a positive impact on their adult lives and careers.
Talking to Kids About Math and Science
Introducing math and science to kids in conversations around the dinner table, in the car, or in the grocery store can be subtle but effective ways of getting children interested in these subjects early. For instance, you can hand your child a receipt from the supermarket and discuss how much you would have paid for the chicken if you had purchased two and a half pounds instead of two pounds or discuss calculating which gas station provides the better value.
Children are instinctively fascinated with science and often ask questions about why the seasons change and how things grow. When science and math are related to real-world situations, children tend to show more interest. It is often in the upper grades when math and science become more conceptual, students often have difficulties. However, if a child is interested in science and math in the first place, they are more likely to have an interest in solving the problems and learning more.
In addition, doing activities involved with science can be enjoyable and instructive. Science experiments, chemistry clubs, and science summer camps can all foster an ongoing interest in math and science and can influence future career decisions.
Providing Guidance Through Tutoring
Young children tend to be interested in math and science, but they tend to hit obstacles in late middle school and high school as more memorization is needed and math and science seem less directly related to real-world examples. To help students through this period, tutoring can be the answer to building a student’s confidence and helping them understand through individualized instruction the concepts they are struggling to master.
Tutors have the advantage of experience and training and, unlike a teacher, are available to work with your child one-on-one and explain things in a way that makes sense to the student. Working with a tutoring agency such as Tutoring Tactics is a great option for finding the right tutor. These agencies have a pool of tutors who are trained, carefully screened, and matched with students. Also, a tutoring agency can provide customer service and oversight.
Improving Your Child’s ProspectsSTEM-oriented education can create career stability and satisfaction for many students. Encouraging kids to become interested in math and science subjects early on, getting them involved in clubs and enrichment activities, and providing support through tutoring can make learning math and science pleasant for kids and can inspire them to pursue and lucrative and fulfilling career in the future.