Encouraging a Child's Interest in Engineering When You Know Nothing About It

14 August 2017
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In the last decade or so, there's been a shift in the focus of education towards the STEM subjects. STEM — which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — covers a range of disciplines that are becoming more and more important in the world of increasing technological dependence.

Encouraging interest in one or more STEM subjects from an early age sets a child up nicely for the future job market, and starting to learn about these areas while still young can really help someone stand out when they grow up.

If you've spotted a budding interest in engineering in your child, you might want to nurture it as much as possible, but that's difficult if you don't know anything about the subject yourself. Here are some ways you can encourage your little engineer during childhood education, even if the subject is a mystery to you.

Narrow down those interests

At the heart of engineering is a desire to know how things work. Being an applied science, engineering actually uses several different fields to achieve real-world results, with physics, chemistry, maths and more coming into play. You might find that your child is more interested in some of these areas than others, so concentrate on those to begin with so they stay engaged.

Buy the right toys

To start with, simple building toys like Lego are a great way to encourage a child's interest in putting things together. As they start to get older, there's a massive range of other great engineering toys, from more complicated building toys to kits for building all sorts of interesting projects. And don't forget the power of puzzles for nurturing an inquisitive and logical mind.

Go on day trips

If you're lucky, you might be near enough to a science or engineering museum for a trip. But if not, there are still plenty of relevant places you can visit. Good choices include particularly impressive bridges, aerospace visitor centres, and wind farms.

Ask questions

The great thing about engineering is that its effects are everywhere, so there's always an opportunity to talk to your child about how things are made and ask them if they can work it out. If you don't know the answers, it doesn't matter – the point is to get the child thinking about it and working through the problem logically. Afterwards, you can always do some research together and find out definitive answers if possible, which will help you to learn more about engineering in the process. That way, you can be even more encouraging in the future.