How to Support Your Child
Ways of supporting your child in Science
1. Show interest
Find out their termly topics (most schools will provide this information each term, or you can always ask their teacher) and take an interest — find relevant books in the library or bookshop, do some research, brush up your own knowledge about the topic! Then you can have interesting conversations where you are both learning at the same time.
2. Encourage curiosity
Science learning begins with curiosity. Observations and questions can create a climate of discovery – key to scientific learning. Children can learn a lot about science even at bath time. Let your child ask her/his own questions but you can also stimulate curiosity. For instance, when seeing a rubber duck float in the water, invite him/her to think by saying, “I wonder if the soap will also float?" See what questions your child asks and what experiments she/he tries.
3. Get hands-on
Look up fun, practical science experiments you can do at home with everyday objects. Accept that explorations are often messy. Whether it’s outdoor exploration with mud and sticks or indoors with water, children are likely to get dirty when they explore materials. Dress children in old clothing and tell them it’s ok to get dirty.
- Ask ‘What happens when you mix food colouring in milk?’ Then add washing up liquid and watch what happens.
- Why not try making your own mini exploding volcano? Just add bicarbonate of soda, food colouring, washing up liquid and vinegar. Then stand back and watch the eruption!
- Cooking is also a great opportunity to mix ingredients, add heat and examine changing states.
- Try exploring changing states with ice and water to begin to see those changes that can be reversed and those that can’t.
- A real favourite would have to be ‘gloop’ — use water and cornflour (add food colouring too if needed) to explore solids and liquids. Just be prepared to get messy!
- Of course, there are also some wonderful science kits available to buy to push your scientists further – making crystals, rockets and even bouncy balls.
4. Accept mistakes!
Learn from mistakes together. If an experiment goes wrong, take advantage and investigate with your child to see what went wrong. A mistake can lead to all kinds of possibilities and it provides opportunities for you and your child to refine your ideas, understanding, and hypotheses.
5. Take a trip
Why not take a trip to a science museum, park, a zoo or an aquarium? These don’t necessarily need to be completely related to what they are learning about at school. Any visit can help their curiosity and engagement with science generally.
6. Record observations
Encourage children to record their observations. Writing, drawing, or taking photographs are all ways to record observations - an important scientific skill. Such records allow children to keep track of what they saw, heard, questioned, or discovered. When you notice your child is interested in something (like the moon, leaves changing on the trees, or the growth of a plant) you can suggest ways for them to record what they have observed. “Do you want to draw that?” or “Do you want to take photos?” or “Do you want me to help you write down what you noticed?”
7. Give time and space for exploring
Find out about famous scientists and research unique and exciting inventions up to and including the present day. Who knows, you may have the next Stephen Hawking or Marie Curie at home! Explore and find the answers together. You as a parent don’t have to be your child's encyclopaedia and quickly try to answer all your child’s questions. Responding with “What do you think?” or “I don’t know but we can find out together” can stimulate more thought and additional questions. Explore and find the answers together.
8. Use your electronic devices
Make good use of your electronic devices. Take pictures of a stunning butterfly, record frog sounds, use a website or app to learn more about a specific phenomenon or creature.