Parenting Now!

Full STEAM Ahead – Bringing STEAM into the home

As your child gets to be pre-school and kindergarten age, you might hear a lot of talk about the importance of STEAM or its earlier version STEM. It’s not the steam of a locomotive or the stem of a plant that’s being talked about, though STEAM and STEM are related to all of that!

STEAM is an acronym for:

STEAM is an update of the acronym STEM (coined in 2007) with “A for Art” added.

But What Exactly is STEAM?

STEAM (and STEM) is a way for educators and parents to help children combine different areas of knowledge and learning:

Connecting these subjects together, rather than trying to teach them separately, is more how children naturally learn and experience the world.

Making STEAM Connections

Let’s say you decided to take a walk in the woods with your child. With a STEAM approach you might ask your child to:

STEAM Asks “What” Instead of “Why”

It’s not only your child who asks “Why.“ You too might ask “why” questions (though probably not as much as your child does!)

Why questions tend to imply that there is “an” answer. “Why doesn’t the light turn on?” could be easily answered with “it’s not turned on” or “I don’t know.”

A STEAM approach tries to move away from “why questions” to focus on “what questions.” If the light isn’t working, you might ask:

“What” questions help children notice what is around them, problem solve, learn good communication skills and sparks imagination. Your child can build confidence when you encourage them to figure out how to answer questions and solve problems on their own by using a variety of interconnected (STEAM) skills.

STEAM at Home

There are lots of opportunities to take a STEAM approach at home. Being in the Northwest, there are innumerable great STEAM opportunities using rain or water. Here are but a few to start with:

The list of possibilities just for rain and water is as endless as the rains can seem in a Northwest winter. And opportunities for STEAM activities in everyday life are even more numerous – from comparing sizes, shapes, and colors of fruits and veggies in the grocery store (math and science) to making tunnels out of tables and blankets (engineering and math) to creating potato print art (art and science).

Search the Internet and you’ll find lots of STEAM activities. The US Department of Education has lots of tip sheets at, and there are many links on Edutopia A simple google search will help find much more.

Get STEAM-ed Every Day.

Science, technology, engineering, art, and math are a part of our everyday lives. By focusing on how these subjects interact and asking “what” questions, you can help your child with creativity and critical thinking. They’ll then be ready to go full STEAM ahead not only in academics but also in all they do.


This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors, Tova Stabin, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson ( Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! contact us here.

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