Now, more than ever, technology is the future. From AI transforming our workplaces to virtual learning becoming the new norm, a good grasp of all things technological will be essential to thrive in the future. That’s why it’s not unlikely that the next generation will be pursuing more degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In fact, several of the most in-demand jobs in Canada for the past year are centered around STEM, including electricians, engineers, and nurses.
But how can you, as a parent, support them in this endeavor? Today, we’re highlighting some things you can do to help them in this regard.
Bringing STEM into the house
If you want to show your full support for your children’s interest, look into bringing STEM activities into the house. For example, everyday tasks like cooking can turn into a science experiment. Popular games like Minecraft, which helps develop STEM skills, can be bought and downloaded into your computer for your kids to enjoy.
You can even take the extra step by learning STEM with them. Read related topics, watch a couple of videos, or even try some online STEM activities yourself. STEM kits like Green Kid Crafts and Groovy Lab are good to have as well, as they make an excellent opportunity for you and your children to learn STEM together. Sharing their interests not only shows genuine support, but is also a good way for you to familiarize yourself with the possible fields your kids want to explore, too.
Visiting a STEM museum
Another way to support your kids’ STEM interest is to increase their exposure to it. And what’s more fun (and educational) than a trip to a local tech and science museum? Current circumstances have made it difficult to visit them, but there are many across the country like the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, TELUS World of Science in Edmonton, and Science World in Vancouver. If you’re a bit reluctant to take the kids out, there are also global STEM museums that you can tour virtually, like NASA’s Langley Research Center, the National Museum of Computing, and Belgium’s Museum of Natural Sciences.
Supporting them financially
Since there’s so much knowledge to be learned, the price to pay for STEM education is not cheap. You need to pay around $6,500 for an undergraduate degree every year, eventually amounting to $25,000 for an average four-year course. Some STEM courses like engineering go beyond four years, not to mention all the equipment students have to pay for. So, the costs will definitely be higher for your kids. One great way to show your support for your child is by shouldering some of the financial burden by opening a registered education savings plan (RESP) for them. RESPs are savings accounts you can open for your children, allowing you to cash in a maximum of $2,500 per year tax-free. Plus, the government will add 20% of whatever you contribute annually for even more money. Saving up for your children’s education will let them pursue whatever career they want in the future without thinking of the expenses.
Making career connections
Job-hunting can be very difficult, but you can help your kids land their ideal job by introducing them to people who already work in the industry. For example, if you, yourself, are in a STEM field, then make an effort to bring your child to work one day. Maybe you have a relative who is working in a laboratory or a mechanical position? If so, introduce your child to them, too. Fostering these connections early not only gives them viable career options, but it will also expand their horizons on the many STEM jobs that are available today.
Entering them into extracurricular activities
If you want to see your kids succeed in their chosen field, then consider enrolling them in STEM-based extracurricular activities. For example, non-profit leaning organization Actua is delivering STEM programs to over 350,000 young Canadians every year with workshops, summer camps, and more. As part of their COVID-19 action plan, most of these programs are now available online. They’re even providing learning materials for children who want to learn, but don’t have access to stable internet. Other entities like the Toyota Canada Foundation and Let’s Talk Science are offering similar packages.
The best thing about these kinds of programs is how they tackle nearly every STEM field, from technology to chemistry. So, for kids who are eyeing a career in STEM but don’t know what, you’ll find that STEM camps can help them find their niche. Alternatively, you can enroll them in specialized programs like Hatch Coding’s programming courses if they’re set on what they want to learn.
STEM is a fun and lucrative field, though it’s not easy to get into. As such, if your children show an active interest in STEM, they’ll appreciate all the support you can give.