Your Pre-Kindergartner

Science

Ask any kid. You don’t need a laboratory to do science. There will be plenty of time later for things like beakers and scalpels. Today your child just wants to use his senses, try things out, and maybe peek under a rock or two.

Don’t be afraid to let his curiosity rub off on you, either. You may find yourself needing to think a little harder, or even look something up, just to answer some of his never-ending questions!

The so-called “scientific method” is actually something we all use all the time, whether we’re wearing goggles or not. As babies we would repeat an action if we noticed it had a neat effect. By the time we were walking, we knew that a stick was a good way to check out something without touching it. And as adults, we “experiment” with new recipes for dinner, different routes to get to work, and talk with each other about what might improve our surroundings.

At the age your kid is now, the best path is to encourage more exploration, offer him different experiences, and enjoy watching his mind get stronger every day.

Child Care Staff Gifts: What They Really Want!

Stand Back, I’m Researching.

Why is a noodle stiff at first, then floppy later? The little scientist in your house is asking new questions about the world around him, and has a growing understanding of weight and strength. That’s fitting, since his own weight and strength grow each day!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Children should have plenty of chances to explore objects -- and consider their size, color, weight and even how they move. Listen for conversations about natural items or other materials that encourage children to think about what makes an object interesting!

The Earth Is Awesome.

Meteorologist by day, astronomer by night. Your kid is always learning about the earth and space, and can even start noticing how different things seem as time passes – and asking why the moon is sometimes visible in the daytime!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Take a picture of a tree at different times of day, am, afternoon, pm and compare the pictures in a day. Do the above for each season of the year. Discuss the surfaces in your pictures – rocks, grass, water, etc. Look for children and caregivers taking time to notice and talk about different times of the day and seasons. They might do this by talking about the sun and moon, or maybe what happens to rocks, grass, water and trees from summer to fall or winter to spring.

Let Me Investigate.

From a healthy flower to a dead ladybug, to a kid just about anything is worth investigating. He can tell plants from animals, and knows that both are different from, say, a rock. But there’s much more he wants to know – do your best to field his many questions!

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Children are comparing animals and plants -- or conducting investigations about one particular animal or plant. They might work on a longer project noticing how things grow or change over time.

I Can Build It.

Your budding engineer doesn’t just know that a rope will help her get up in a tree; she knows why a string didn’t work last time. As her knowledge grows, she’s seeing how things in the home or in the classroom can be used together to, well, make stuff happen.

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Children should have the chance to build -- and to build based on their plan! Notice if they use materials to make a boat, house, road or simple machine. As they explore, do teachers help them think about the materials and talk about how their plans do -- or don't -- work out?

With This Thing I Can Study That Thing.

If I stand on my chair, can I see in that bird’s nest? What if we take this snowball inside? Now that he’s using tools to learn more, your kid really never runs out of questions. He may be starting to ask a very important one, too: “Is this good for our earth?”

Look for signs of learning at your child's care.

Notice whether basic scientific experiments are conducted in the classroom. For example, the teacher might place oil and water into a bowl and discuss whether they mix or separate…and why. It's also common to see strong programs discussing the environment and how people can affect it.

All children learn and grow at their own pace and in their own way. For more information about the skills and milestones for your child's age check out our developmental milestones resource page. If you continue to have concerns or questions please give us a call at 1-800-299-1627.