Everyone knows the benefit of a good preschool in jumpstarting early reading, writing, and math. But should a preschooler engage in questions about biology, physics, and astronomy along-side their ABCs and numbers? Every young child’s mind is engaged in science every day. They ask questions, form hypothesis, test their hypothesis, and draw conclusions all on their own as they play and explore their world. Here are four statistics that show why this kind of scientific play is indispensable for preschool children.
Statistic #1: Most children have formed an opinion about science (whether positive or negative) by the age of 7 (1).
This means that children have already decided whether they like or dislike science by around 1st or 2nd grade. That’s incredibly young! This places a lot of importance on those early developmental years. Children need early exposure to science that is fun, engaging, and age appropriate. Their first impressions may just last a lifetime!
Statistic #2: Research shows that children as young as 5 can distinguish between evidence that supports a hypothesis and evidence that does not (5).
In other words, even young children can think critically about science concepts. Thinking scientifically about a statement, and whether or not it is supported by fact, builds reasoning and thinking skills. It is in the scientific field that they will learn the reasoning, fact checking, and hypothesis testing that will aid them in the rest of their education whatever field that may be, even if it’s not in science!
Statistic #3: Did you know that young children ask an average of 100 questions per hour? This number comes from a 2007 study by, Professor Michelle Chouinard, who recorded over 200 hours of 4 year olds interacting with their care givers. But, as a parent, this comes as no surprise. (7)
Children have an insatiable curiosity. They run after butterflies, collect rocks and shells, poke at slugs, run their hands over the fur of an animal, race cars down the slide to see which goes the fastest. Everything they do is about asking questions and discovering the answers. They are naturally little scientists. This thirst to know and understand their world should be fed and encouraged from an early age.
Statistic #4: Young children are absorbing and retaining information at an astounding rate. A child’s vocabulary can expand by up to 15,000 words by the age of 6 (6)
Young children are little sponges! They are able to (and have the desire to) learn much more than we give them credit for. Does this mean we need to make our children memorize the periodic table and 5 syllable science vocab by the time they are 4 or 5? Absolutely not! But it does mean that it’s okay to satisfy their curiosity and answer their questions to the best of our knowledge, even if it means using some big words or concepts.
- Should Science Be Taught in Early Childhood? Author(s): Haim Eshach and Michael N. Fried Source: Journal of Science Education and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Sep., 2005), pp. 315-336 Published by: Springer Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40188693 Accessed: 11-10-2015 21:48 UTC
- Ruffman, T., Perner, J., Olson, D. R., and Doherty, M. (1993). Reflecting on scientific thinking: Children’s understanding of the hypothesis-evidence relation. Child Development 64: 1617- 1636
- Carey, S. (1978). The child as word learner. In Halle, M., Bresnan, J., and Miller, G. (Eds.), Linguistic Theory and Psychological