Although we have come a long way from the days when Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), were disciplines strictly dominated by males, women are still underrepresented in these fields. In a world run by ingenuity and innovation, this is not a good thing as it means we are losing about half of the brainpower available to us. For this reason, several institutions, organizations, professionals, and even some heads of state have come up with a call to action as well as strategies to increase the number of women in STEM fields.
According to various institutions, organizations, and individuals seeking to bridge the gender gap in STEM, a good place to start would be getting more young girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. This is a responsibility that falls on the parents and guardians of young girls. Therefore, if you have a little girl in your life, here are a few practical tips on how you can get her excited about STEM.
Encourage Her to Take On STEM in School
Sound knowledge on the basics of STEM topics puts a girl one-step closer to being able to pursue a career in any of the fields. This is why you should spark your little girl’s interest in STEM right from elementary and middle school years. Let it be known that you expect the girl to do well in STEM subjects and then get her to focus on all schoolwork concerning the 4 areas of study. Also, get her to participate in any hands-on STEM programs and activities offered after school hours as well as during the vacation. Getting your girl interested in STEM during the first years of her school life will increase chances of her choosing to continue learning the subjects once she gets to high school.
Actively Expose Your Child to STEM
In addition to encouraging your child to pursue STEM in school, it is also essential that you expose her to real-life learning opportunities outside of the class. The exposure will help her see the future possibilities that STEM classes can offer and therefore increase the possibility of her ending up in one of the industries.
Science museums and zoos offer a great starting point as they introduce kids to the practical side of STEM in a fun way that is devoid of any pressures. And if you are interested in a more serious approach, there are STEM clubs and organizations that offer special programs where kids get a firsthand introduction to STEM by professionals working in these fields. Some of the programs even allow kids to shadow professionals in the various STEM fields while they are in their element.
Try Finding a Female STEM Professional to Mentor the Kid
Most successful professionals have a mentor who played an invaluable role in their career life. So, introducing your daughter to a computer scientist, doctor, mechanical engineer, software programmer, or any professional in STEM at an early age is as close as you will get to ensuring she ends up pursuing a career in one of the fields. If you are unable to find a real-life STEM professional, books, videos, and documentaries that feature STEM role models can make an effective alternative.
Invest in STEM Toys
Aside from providing fun, the toys and games that we shower our kids with also help to mold their interests. Therefore, with the right kind of toys, you can be able to instill a love of STEM that will develop into a career interest. Thankfully, there are tons of options available when it comes to sparking an interest in STEM. Any open-ended toy that touches on science, technology, engineering, & math will do. Such toys not only trigger an interest in STEM but also instill analytical skills and critical thinking both of which are vital in STEM careers.
The key to encouraging young girls in STEM is to get them interested in these fields of study and then keep them hooked. This therefore means that you will have to start encouraging an interest in STEM early in your child’s life and remaining persistent in your endeavors throughout her school life.
In today's world, parents can easily lose sight of the fact that parenting is a relationship. Rather, we get caught up in disciplining and controlling our kids' behavior. While discipline certainly has its place, it tends to be a lot easier if you have a foundation of respect first...and that comes from having a relationship.
Here are some reasons why and how respect in parenting is a two-way street.
1. Remember Your Child Is a Person
It's easy to forget that your child is only human - a toddler who is overwhelmed, upset, and in a bad mood, for instance, is likely to be labeled "bad," whereas you probably wouldn't label a sad, overwhelmed, or upset adult the same way. Although your child is not necessarily a "little adult," he or she is a person, with human needs and struggles and feelings. They are also imperfect, just like we are! Just keeping these things in mind can shift your thinking to a more mutually-respectful mindset.
2. Do Unto Others...
Quite simply, treating your kids the way you want to be treated is a great springboard for discipline and relationship. Granted, sometimes you have to ask things of your kids that you really would rather not have someone do to you (ask you to do the dishes, for instance), but the overarching theme of treating them like you would want to be treated still applies - you can ask them to do the dishes in a respectful manner, for instance, and show your appreciation for their help.
3. Earn, Don't Demand Respect
You really can't force someone to respect you by demanding it. Your kids might go through the motions of respecting you, but they may just be acting out of fear. Respect - and experts agree - is best earned, and you earn it by giving it.
4. Watch Demeaning Language
A lot of damage has been done by using demeaning language with kids. Referring to them as "stupid" or asking "what is wrong with you?" when they do something wrong or make a mistake can damage their self-esteem and undermine their confidence. And it certainly isn't respectful! Watch what you say - make sure you use respectful and courteous language and you're more likely to receive that kind of language in return.
5. You're Still an Authority
Earning respect from your kids doesn't mean always being their buddy. You are an authority figure, and your kids need for you to be. But you can be authoritative and still be respectful - try to employ some of the above tips and apply them to your status as an authority figure.
When it comes to picky eaters, sometimes you have to outsmart them! Here are some top tips for your picky eater.
1. Have a Strategy
Approaching snacks and mealtimes with a strategy can help a great deal. It "arms" you, the parent, with a response to begging, not finishing food, and refusal to eat certain foods. Read on for some specifics on strategy.
2. Loosen the Control Grip
Unfortunately, parents often grab for more control when there's a situation that needs "correcting" - whether it's an overweight child or a picky eater. The problem with this, though, is that it may create an obsession with "forbidden" foods, or set your child up to make excuses to reward him or herself by eating comfort foods.
In an era when more than half of Americans are overweight, we need to take special care not to set our kids up for a weight struggle later in life. So relax, and focus on teaching your child to listen to his or her body.
3. Plan Meals and Snacks
Having meals planned and including snacks (so your child doesn't have to beg for a snack every day, and you "give in" and let him/her eat junk food) may help a lot with picky eating. Kids tend to respond positively to routine.
4. Keep Foods Simple
Casseroles are tempting because they are easy and inexpensive, but kids tend to shun "mixtures." You may find that simple, plain foods are actually easier to prepare in the end! Finger foods tend to be a big hit, like sandwiches, and vegetables and dip, sliced fruit, and simple pastas are often popular.
5. Hide the Veggies and Fruits
Fresh veggies and fruits can be whizzed in a blender with jarred spaghetti sauce, cheese dip, and pizza sauce. Speaking of pizza, mince up spinach or zucchini and sprinkle over pizza. Cover with veggie pepperoni and a moderate amount of cheese.
6. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Give your child choices of what to eat - just make sure that each option is something healthy and acceptable. This helps the child feel like he or she has a "voice" in what is eaten, and also introduces them to variety that is a key to healthy eating.
7. Funny Food
Check the internet for fun ways to prepare food. You can make landscapes with rice or mashed potatoes as a background; cut fruit and cheese into shapes; and cut bread into shapes as well. There are so many things you can do to make food fun and beautiful to look at - and somehow, kids tend to like eating these fun landscapes!