Here in Singapore, students embark on the learning journey to discover the wonders of science in primary 3. While most students start off the journey filled with high hopes and excitement (after all, science truly is a fascinating subject filled with amazing discoveries), they may soon lose interest in the subject upon learning that their love and interest may not be enough to help them score well in the science exams.
So, what can you do to help your children retain their passion in the subject and motivate them not to give up hope? Charmaine Choo, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Training at MindChamps shares the following tips to help parents instill a love in science in their children from the start:
1. Make learning fun
The rule of thumb to spur your child’s interest in Science is to make it comprehensible, engaging and fun.
You can achieve this by conducting simple Science experiments with your child such as making slime with cornflour, creating static electricity or making ice lollies. On a good day, you can also “wander and wonder” together. This could involve a trip to a nearby park, the Botanic Gardens or the Science Centre. Alternatively, you can also introduce your child to Science games and/or simulations online.
See also: How to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read
2. Make science relevant
When children see how the knowledge learnt in school is applicable to their lives, they will naturally become curious and interested to learn more.
Watch Science documentaries on channels such as Discovery Channel Animal Planet and National Geographic with your child and ask him/her questions such as:
Q: Why is it common practice to spread and hang towels after using them?
A: This increases their exposed surface area, thereby increasing the rate of evaporation of water.
Q: Why is it necessary to brush your teeth before going to bed?
A: Some bacteria in your mouth respire anaerobically and produce lactic acid that causes tooth decay.
Q: Why is it important to exercise regularly?
A: Aerobic exercise makes the heart stronger.
Q: Why is it important to put fresh milk in the fridge?
A: Low temperature slows the growth of bacteria.
When you relate the things that are taught in school to what your child already knows, this helps to increase his/her retention of the new information.
3. Be supportive of your child’s efforts to learn
Form a learning partnership with your child where partners are equal rather than adopting an instructor/student (master/slave) model. Ask your child what he/she is learning in school and encourage him/her to “fill the gaps” by seeking clarification. Empower your child to understand that learning is a process, and that failure is an important part of that process. Also, focus on your child’s strengths and recognise and celebrate your child’s achievements (no matter how small) as these forms of positive reinforcement will keep your child motivated to learn.
4. Inculcate healthy study habits
This includes being ready for class, paying attention during class and revising the material that was covered in class as soon as possible. It is also important to help your child stay organised and in control of his/her work. You can help your child by setting up a system when filing his/her school papers and assignments, and drawing up a simple and realistic timetable to follow every day. With everything in place, your child will be able to take charge of the learning schedule without feeling overwhelmed, and in turn, he/she will be more motivated to learn.
Encourage your child to express his/her opinion, talk about his/her feelings, and make choices together. Good learners have the confidence to be heard without the fear of being judged, put down, discouraged or ignored.
On the other hand, it is also beneficial to catch up with your child’s teachers every now and then. This will give you a better understanding of the school curriculum and activities and help you support your child better. A positive parent-teacher relationship also demonstrates to your child that he/she can trust his/her teacher.