In the past, families were often stuck having to send their child to whatever school happened to serve their neighborhood. Fortunately, times have changed, and you have the opportunity to pick from public, private and charter school programs to find one that fits the goals that you have for your child. STEM schools are focused on teaching kids advanced skills in the fields of science and technology that can give them an edge, as they mature and prepare to go to college and start careers. As you get ready to go on your first tour of a STEM school, be sure to look for these signs that the program will give your child everything they need to succeed.
Look for Up-to-Date Technology and Equipment
Although young children often start off using older tablets, you want to make sure that the school your child goes to has the money in their budget to provide the highest quality education possible. Children who are forced to wait for slow computers and internet access to load a page are wasting valuable time. Your child may also be frustrated, if they try to do advanced work on electronic devices that are not capable of handling it. As you tour the school, you should see students using modern equipment.
Ask About Project-Based Learning
Children learn best through hands-on experiences that allow them to put what they learn into practice. When you speak with the staff, inquire about their teaching practices. Ideally, you should hear that teachers do a small amount of traditional lecturing and book reading with their students, but the rest of the time is spent actually working on projects. For example, your child may use software during their coding class that allows them to create a game or program. Doing projects helps to build confidence, which is critical for children who want to go into STEM careers.
Inquire About Opportunities for Collaboration
A quality STEM program also tries to mimic what happens in real life working environments. For this reason, you shouldn't see kids sitting in rows of desks where they are expected to sit silently. Instead, you should see evidence that children are encouraged to collaborate, such as tables being formed for students to face each other and work together on solving a problem. The staff should also tell you that they encourage kids to ask each other for help and that group projects are a common experience.