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For many of us, the thought of doing science with our children seems extremely complicated. We think about gowns, special materials and instruments, microscopes, and so on. And yes, all of that can be important to get, but all in due time. Because doing science is so much more than just that, and it has incredible benefits for our little ones.

They learn new vocabulary, develop their fine motor skills, learn to follow instructions, learn about patience, learn to take turns, and frustration tolerance, as there are experiments that take time to reach the result or things do not go as expected. In addition, through experiments, they can learn concepts such as: empty, half full, full; cause and effect, hot and cold, and even begin to better understand the concept of time, in addition to improving their social skills when doing experiments together with others.

Children always have explanations for everything, which means they are observing and sorting through data to draw their own conclusions. Many of those early predictions are modified by our comments or by things they discover on their own as they experience what they have imagined and finally understand the phenomenon through the whole process. They have done this since they were newborns when they explore the world with their senses and continue to do so as they grow up because that is how they learn and better understand what surrounds them. It is not surprising then that science is something they are very good at.

As a science teacher, I wanted to awaken in my daughter a taste for science. My interest has always been for her to see the fun and wonderful side of experiments. These are the stages my daughter and I have gone through during this time of doing science at home:

Observe: in the beginning, it was me doing everything while she was the spectator. I would tell her what was going to happen and then explain to her why we were getting those results. We started with this when she was 1 year old.

Participate: my daughter was 18 months old when I let her start in the world of science by pouring liquids, transferring solids, showing her the steps to follow, and letting her learn to follow the instructions step by step. For this, in the beginning, I had everything pre-measured and just let her place them and later, when she had more skills, I allowed her to start measuring by herself.

Inferring: from the age of 2 and a half I started with simple questions that allowed my daughter to explain what she thought was going to happen and then what she was observing during the experiment.

Relate: from the age of 4 it is already possible to have a talk with her where she begins to establish connections between different things she has been learning in the experiments and activities we do.

If you are interested in following this path, remember:

  • Keep calm in the face of disaster: it will be normal that at the beginning something ends up on the floor. That is why you should be aware of the materials to be used and, above all, the experiments you are going to do.

  • Identify their stages/interests/abilities: with younger children, we are interested in awakening their capacity for wonder and observation, as they grow older you can look for experiments based on their likes and dislikes. But always take into account their attention spans and don't prepare experiments that take too long or have too many steps to do.

  • Children should not be alone for the duration of the experiment. Have everything you are going to use within reach beforehand to avoid leaving them unattended. Accidents happen in an instant.

  • It is important to ask questions to guide them in their observations, however, it is more important that we ask questions that are in accordance with their previous knowledge or that we know how to direct their answers that may be incorrect. If the answer is not as expected, it is better to offer a little more information on the subject and ask questions such as: what can we do to check what you said? Knowing how to ask questions and knowing how to redirect the answers we are given is something that is learned and perfected over time.