Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Help Kids Learn - and Love - Science

A few months ago, I was interviewed by Parentdish columnist Carrie Snyder. She wanted to know how she, as a self-confessed science-phobic, "artsy-craftsy" kind of mom, could help her kids become more science-y.

So I dished, offering my own opinions formed over years of writing science-related activity books, and as a parent myself. The interview is now available to read on line. It's full of useful info, and pretty damn funny to boot. :)

I'm reprinting some of my pithiest comments for your immediate reading pleasure here. However, I urge you to go to the Parentdish site to read the entire interview, and to check out Parentdish's awesome menu of parenting advice, insights, and cool ideas.

Carrie: Can any kid be a scientist?

Helaine: Most kids are curious about everything, and are therefore natural scientists. The attitude that is a 100% guaranteed way to turn kids off is that there is a "right" or a "wrong" answer, or that there are "right" ways to do things. Besides, it's just plain wrong. Scientists usually learn the most from screwing up - there's a reason the process is called "trial and error." Alexander Graham Bell, for example, invented the telephone when he got the whole darn contraption put together backwards.


Carrie: So, how do we feed rather than stifle our kids' curiosity?

Helaine: Science, and learning of all sorts, is about making mistakes. Those who are most willing to make mistakes are the ones who will wind up learning the most and coming up with the best new ideas. So, to encourage this, let kids mess around as much as possible without too much supervision.

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