Parents play a very huge role in the decisions of their children especially in choosing a STEM school. Mostly, not until they turn 18. From first principle, they are the ones to determine the name to give to their child, what that child eats or which other children in the neighborhood they are not allowed to play with. Thus, parents are basically the first people to tell what a child is exceptionally good at. They should therefore not be biased in their observations about their kids. It is vital the kind of educational choices they make for their kids. That daddy attended Isthatacollege University does not mean their ward must attend the same college. Not to say parent should completely leave educational decisions to their children but they must spearhead and consider the children’ interest in that decision. Some children end up in the wrong school and end up in the wrong career because of certain choices of parents. A child’s interest from infancy might be engineering but he might end up as a lawyer. Not to say being an engineer is better than practicing Law. But the innovations of a renowned engineer might just have being buried. We just might have missed vital person in the STEM universe. Passion should always supersede just being good at something. There therefore certain factors to consider when choosing a STEM school for your children.
If a child interests are in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics, it is vital the parent consider a STEM school for that child. On the contrary, not many schools describe themselves as STEM focused school. But there are factors to consider in enrolling your ward in a school. In Africa, for instance the education curricular does not give kids the chance to focus on what they really love to do until high school. It might be therefore be difficult to determine if a school is STEM focused from the basic school level. Also, some kid may be good at Science and Mathematics courses in basic school and be the top of their kindergarten and basic school classes and end up studying art in high school and law in the university because their parents and teachers feel they are brilliant or gifted, thus they would make good lawyers. That child might make a great lawyer but not a passionate one. The factors to consider in STEM school choice decision making includes but not limited to;
- Strength: If it a basic school or high school, the performance of their alumni in science and mathematics matters a lot. It tells the strength of the school towards STEM education. The same need to be considered in choosing a college or any other higher education. Face it! You will not want your ward to study engineering in a college of art just because they offer an engineering course. It is also worth noting that the name of the school might be not be a good reference to deciding if it is STEM focused. That a University has engineering and technology in its name does not guarantee that their students come out as the best engineers and technology experts. In Ghana, for instance, there might be better doctors from the University of Ghana than there are from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. It is therefore important to consider the performance past student of the school in choosing a STEM based school for your ward. It is also vital to make certain these statistics are both recent and past because some schools might just be leaving in past glories.
- Extra-Curricular activity: Another factor worth mentioning is if the extracurricular activities in the school interest your ward. Some kids love basketball but the school might be excelling in football. Thus, a kid good at the basketball in the basketball team in such a school might think he is the one failing the school in that sport. This is because extra-curricular activities greatly impart kids’ general academic performance. Not all extra-curricular activities are supposed to be competitive. For instance, the piano club is not really competitive in a sense. Therefore, if a parent notices their ward has a shot at pursuing a career in STEM and loves to play piano, it is important to consider that interest in the choice of school. This is because, the presence of extra-curricular activity that a child is attracted psychologically affects their interest toward STEM. Most importantly the presence of a STEM club or Science and Math Club is a good observation to make in choosing a school for your ward. You must also find out how active this clubs are within the school.
- Style of learning: Everyone has a style of learning unless one has not yet discovered an approach that works for him or her. There are several articles on the topic of methods of learning. It is therefore important to consider a child’s style of learning before enrolling them into a particular school. There is a connection between the way knowledge is delivered and the way it is received. The delivery mode must match the reception mode. STEM related subjects are completely different from that of Art subjects. For instance, you cannot teach someone Science or Mathematics the same way you would teach Arts. Science and Mathematics topics are mostly abstract. And for kid who intend to pursue a career in STEM, he or she might spend a lifetime around one abstract concept or another. It is therefore important you understand how you kid learns new things before enrolling them in a school. Some kids are at their best when told what to do always, but some prefer to learn on their own. Kids differ in different ways. One approach is to talk to a neighbor or another parent whose kids are in the same schools as the one you intend enrolling your kid to. Moreover, a school might not necessarily adapt your kid’s style of learning just because they admitting him.
As a final note, the choice of school for a child is solely the responsibility of parents and they might be considering other financial factors or proximity to their place of residence. But I just feel when it comes to educational choices, especially STEM education, the above factors should be eminent.
This blog was originally shared on my blog