How can I encourage my child's interest in science, technology, engineering, and math?

One of the best ways to encourage children’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is to provide them with plenty of opportunities to play, because it is through play that children learn to be thinkers, builders, and inventors. Look for toys that encourage important scientific skills such as creativity (e.g., Lego, Goldie Blox), exploration (e.g., bug catcher, binoculars), observation (e.g., “I Spy” books and games), and flexible thinking (e.g., the cooperative game “Obstacles” by Eeboo). LeapFrog apps such as The Human Body: Captain Plasma's Adventure, Sesame Street: Falling Leaves, and Dinosaur Train: A-Z will help fuel their curiosity. When you play with your child, ask questions about cause-and-effect, discuss possible outcomes, brainstorm alternative solutions, make predictions, and talk about how there are different ways to achieve the same outcome. Doing so will encourage your “little scientist” to engage in similar scientific thinking throughout the day as they explore and learn about the world around them.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.