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Teaching science concepts in early childhood may be beneficial


Teaching concepts of science to preschoolers, aged three to five, may be beneficial, as according to a recent study, early days of childhood is the time when kids begin to develop knowledge and skills for science.

Researchers from Michigan State University in East Lansing, U.S. found that early childhood educators' self-reported ability and enjoyment was high for literacy, but much lower for science and math.

They also found that 99 percent of preschool teachers were engaged in literacy instruction three to four times a week, while the figure fell to 75 percent in math and only 42 percent in science.

Only 38 percent of U.S. fourth-graders were proficient in science in 2015, according to a report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Lead study author Hope Gerde said that providing quality early-childhood science education is one way to improve the very low science achievement of U.S. elementary school children.

"However, it seems the preschool teachers in our study were more confident of their ability in literacy than in science - likely creating a gap between children's literacy development and science skills," Gerde added.

The team studied 67 Head Start classrooms for children aged three to five.

They examined preschool teachers' 'self-efficacy' - or their belief in their ability and enjoyment for an academic area - in literacy, math and science.

Gerde said preschool teachers may struggle with science due to lack of quality training, preparation or an aversion to science.

The authors stated that early childhood period is a time when kids begin developing knowledge and skills for science as preschool children have the capacity to engage in and learn from scientific thinking.

The findings indicated that only teachers with high knowledge and skills for science - not literacy or math - created quality scientific opportunities for students, such as providing science materials and engaging children in science experiences in the classroom.

The research appears in the journal Early Education and Development.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Wed, September 27 2017. 09:57 IST