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Preschoolers and Science
Dr. Nirmala Segaran
EdD, MSc, BA, CPMA (II) Lecturer, Practicum Supervisor, Researcher

                Science is all around us. An appreciation of nature and the environment should begin at an early age. Science experiences provide an important avenue for young children to observe and explore the world around them. Through participating in hands-on Science activities, children become active and positive learners.

         There are 3 components in a Science program which are 1) Science as an attitude, 2) Science as a process, and 3) Science as content or product. Over the years, Science has shifted from ‘being a body of knowledge to be memorized and repeated later on a test’ to ‘doing, questioning and understanding’. Hence, a Science program especially for young children should emphasize the development of a positive attitude and processing inquiry skills rather than the content or product of Science. Young children should be encouraged to experiment, question, think and problem-solve in a safe and hygiene environment and in the process, develop a positive attitude towards Science.
         A Science program for young children should encourage them to use their 5 sense to learn about the world around them, and ask the following Qs –What? How? Why? When designing and selecting hands-on science activities for young children, care should be taken to ensure that they are developmentally appropriate, safe and hygienic as well as focus on the process-inquiry, skills such as observing, classifying, measuring, experimenting, predicting, problem-solving and recording.
         After a Science activity, children can be encouraged to share their experience or findings with their teacher and peers. Although some of the findings may not be accurate or reliable because of the materials or procedures, the important objective of the activity should be to expose the children to the Science experience as well as to inculcate in them a love for Science at an early age.
         While it is important to expose children to commercially-made resources such as the magnifying glass, weighing scales and so on, it is also important to expose children to teacher-made equipment and materials as well as to use items found in the school or home. This is to encourage children to be creative and resourceful and to develop an awareness and appreciation of nature and the environment. Children are holistic individuals who learn in holistic ways. The various subject areas (Science, Mathematics, Language Arts, Social Studies, Art and Craft, Music and Movement, etc) are not separate entities but interact and influence each other. Knowledge and skills are also not compartmentalized according to the subject areas. Hence, Science should be integrated in the early childhood curriculum, and activities should be planned based on the holistic model of child development.
         The role of the adult is important in a Science curriculum. The teacher carefully plans, implements and evaluates each Science activity. Teachers can keep parents informed on the progress of the children in the development of their process-inquiry skills. Parents can also play a part in the Science Curriculum by supporting the various activities planned by the teachers. They can help to collect some specimens (example, a butterfly, a tadpole, a fish, etc) or provide some materials (example, recycled containers, fruits, books, books, etc) for the Science activities. For a Science activity to be successful, both teachers and parents need to work together and support each other.