On October 2017, a mother who attended our STEM parent workshop expressed to me that since attending the program, where she learned how to use technology and digital content, like STEM-based games and online activities, she noticed a vast improvement in her son’s learning. She was astounded at how digital and technology helped her son not only with math skills but also with language development. From working with kids and parents like the mother who attended our workshop, I’ve learned that educational media and technology can play a crucial role in sparking a love for learning outside the classroom – especially in underserved communities.
The mother in this story could have easily left her son’s learning for the classroom, but instead, she recognized the learning opportunity and committed to continue to engage with her son in an informal learning setting: at home.
The discussion around formal and informal setting has been debated for awhile. The formal education model has not changed for the past 150 years. The model remains the same: a group of children are taught by one teacher, in a square room. Disrupting this model has been a challenge for everyone. If the model cannot be disrupted, how do we help stop the anxiety and despondency associated with education and help return it to the atmosphere of growth and inspiration?
Re-imagining the role of parents as equal partners in learning. The mother in this story saw an opportunity to learn and passed down what she learned to her son. She understood how learning outside the classroom can support her child’s academic success. Subjects like STEM can be the cause of considerable anxiety for many caregivers. Engaging these families with easy, accessible, and bilingual content and resources can change their perceptions about outside the classroom learning, just like the mom in this story. When families understand how to link concepts like subitizing or circuits at home, an increased level of personal confidence become a conduit to inspired their kids to learn.
Learning outside the classroom can be tricky. Many would argue that formal learning is the “right way.” However, we need to be mindful that parent engagement can be that spark to support learning outside the classroom and media and technology can be the tools to empower these families and children to engage with one another to unlock their power for learning, just like the families in these photos.