• Jessica Evans

How to get your kids interested in science

It’s back-to-school time and you may find your bank balance quivering in the wake of excitement for new stationary. You might be fighting the lethargic ambivalence towards school radiating from your children.

It happens like that. Kids get excited about wrapping their books and getting a new pencil case, but the sheer hatred and anxiousness for that one subject is just as ubiquitous among school-goers, especially high schoolers.

Science subjects, maths and languages are the victims of a seething contempt or nonchalant dismissal by many learners. Naturally, you want your kids to do well. I’m no psychologist or education specialist but I was a student once and I had my fair share of loathsome subjects. Here are some ways you can do your part as a guardian to get your own children to face theirs.

Don’t force it

Encouragement is great – it is! But don’t bring the hated subject up all day every day. If your kid wants to talk about it, they will. Don’t blast them daily with the forced question: “soooooo… how was biology today?” It will make them irritated with you and worsen their feelings for the subject.

Balance may be a bit tricky here. But it needn’t be. Ask about tests and assignments – be enthusiastic and encouraging if they do well or are just short of a 50 or whatever the goal is. Just don’t fixate on it.

Make it fun and find it in everyday life

Science, maths and languages are everywhere. They’re all over the news and quite literally all around us. Encourage your children to succeed in their subjects by introducing them to casual every day examples.

Anything from talking about the latest advancements in space or technology, to simply introducing them to real-life examples is a small step to getting them interested in what they’re learning.

Photosynthesis can be so [insert curse word] boring! But if you can think of practical ways to learn about the topic, it makes it that little bit more fun and tangible. Try printing out arrows and labels you can clip on a plant with your children to make the point that all that incredibly complicated dullness is happening inside an actual living thing right next to you!

Practical exercises like this also make the topic more relevant to daily life and it can make it easier to learn.

Invest in the extra resources

Here you may have to sacrifice your status as the fun adult and actually be a bit insistent and annoying. Buy the extra guide book and insist on regular looks at it. It isn’t fun but there are some wonderful resources out there and everybody knows, the better you become at something, the more you enjoy it.

Don't underestimate the power of extra lessons. Many schools offer by-appointment extra lessons by the teacher, free of charge. Contact the school and ask about the options available.

Find sources of inspiration

Representation has a monumental influence on one’s perceptions. Science and maths have historically been the realm for men, particularly the melanin-deficient variation.

If your child is a girl or a person of colour, they often won’t see themselves reflected in the syllabus they’re learning because all of the theorists or scientists are white and the majority are men.

But! Surprise-surprise! Female scientists and scientists of colour do actually exist! If you can find them and introduce them (not literally, but if you can literally introduce them that'd be awesome too - well done on you!) to your kid or teenager in a casual setting, it might just give them that extra bit of inspiration.

For high schoolers and university students, 100 Nasty Women of History is excellent. For little children, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is wonderful! Both books clarify the roles of both women in general and women of colour in all sorts of fields, from science, to politics, literature and activism. 15/10 for good representation!

Help them!

Don’t dump all these resources on your kid and wash your hands of any responsibility. Be prepared to sit down with them and work through problems with them. Be prepared to make fun projects together to improve their understanding. And be prepared to encourage them and discipline them when you need to – even at the cost of your status as 'fun adult'.

Don’t confuse support with spoon-feeding though! Don’t do your child’s work for them. Rather, guide them towards the right answer, or give them ideas for their assignment and tips on how to employ them.

Start young

This is pretty self-explanatory. People build their interests from a young age. Introduce your kids to children's encyclopaedias and science-related activity books from an early age to culture a love that grows over time. Prevention is better than cure.

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©2018 by Bite-sized Sci | Jessica Evans