5 Tips for Teaching Engineering to Your Kids
From the moment they’re born, children have a thirst for learning what things are and how they work. Their curiosity drives them to interact with the objects and structures around them, and to replicate these through creative play. In other words, kids are natural-born engineers!
By encouraging this inquisitiveness and imagination, you can help your children develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that serve them throughout their lives. And since employment in architecture and engineering jobs is on this rise, you might be setting them up for a successful career.
If you’re not an engineer yourself, the thought of teaching engineering to your kids can seem like a big challenge. But with these five quick tips and a few simple engineering activities, you can introduce your kids to basic engineering concepts with ease.
How to teach engineering to your kids
1) Encourage them to ask questions
One study shows that children ask around 73 questions every day – that’s over 500 questions every week! While this can be very exhausting for parents, it’s also a fantastic way to help your child learn.
When your kids ask how their toys work, how buildings are made, or what machines do, nurture their interest in engineering by giving simple answers. If you’re not sure, find the answer online and learn together with your children. This is a great opportunity to find out what thoughts and ideas interest them, letting you provide similar explanations in the future.
2) Provide hands-on engineering activities
The best thing about engineering is that it’s interactive. By giving your kids simple engineering activities, you offer them the chance to try it out for themselves.
The trick here is to make their experiences fun. Rather dive straight in with detailed explanations, let your kids play around and work out the answers for themselves first. That way, they can gain a basic understanding of how the pieces fit together that you can explore in more detail later.
One of the easiest ways to introduce engineering ideas for kids is with hands-on engineering kits. Activities like our Pioneering Structures, Exploring Vehicles, and Creating Inventions kits offer kids a wide range of new experiences. Each one teaches a different concept and lets you children build a working knowledge (and love) of engineering.
You can give your kids even more encouragement by helping them share their successes. Take pictures or film construction videos to post online, and invite their friends over to share in the joy of engineering.
3) Let them build freely
For young children, even simple engineering activities can be tough to understand. So they might need some help in figuring things out. But if you try to complete their projects for them, they’re likely to lose interest.
Instead, let your kids decide what and how they want to build, and be available to offer support. If they want to build a complex structure or device, help them by providing basic activities that teach the skills they need to reach their goal. By tasting success with smaller challenges, your kids can build the passion and resilience that prepare them for more difficult tasks.
Our STEAM Builder Bin is perfect for letting your kids build freely while sticking to a realistic learning curve. It uses open-ended idea cards with three difficulty levels to guide kids towards hundreds of unique creations. That means they can navigate simple concepts and move to more complex structures as their mastery of engineering grows.
4) Explore different kinds of engineering
Traditionally, engineers worked on, well, engines. And while that’s still true for some, modern engineering covers dozens of industries. For example:
- Civil engineers work on infrastructure and transportation projects
- Environmental engineers improve renewable energy, waste disposal, and air pollution control
- Chemical engineers produce fuel, food, pharmaceuticals, and other products
- Mechanical engineers build vehicles, ships, and appliances
- Electrical engineers design and test electrical equipment, communications systems, and power generators
- And there are so many more!
By opening your children’s eyes to the many wonders of engineering, you help them spot connections with their other interests. This can inspire a deeper passion for engineering as a field, encouraging them to stick to it even when things get tough.
5) Find engineering in everyday life
Once you’ve completed a few simple engineering activities and explored some engineering ideas for kids, look for examples of what you’ve learned in the real world. If you build a car, watch them in action on the road. If you build a bridge, talk to your kids about any bridges you see. If you build a drone, go and see a drone display. The possibilities are endless!
This is also a great excuse to visit major landmarks with your family. Plan a fun day out and go the extra mile to broaden your child’s mind. And if they see something that grabs their attention, try to introduce these kinds of activities at home, too.
Experience dozens of fun hands-on activities with STEAM engineering kits
Teaching your kids engineering is all about nurturing their curiosity and giving them interesting activities to explore. And with STEAM engineering kits, your kids can always be learning something new while having a ton of fun!
Take a look through our Engineering collection today to find exciting activities that welcome your kids to the world of engineering.