When is a good time to start teaching your kids about astronomy? Some may feel that they should at least be school-aged but recent studies have shown that preschoolers and toddlers can benefit from simple astronomy lessons about the sky and telescopes. While it may be too soon for them to start pointing out constellations, it is never too soon to begin teaching them about the wonders of our universe in a way that they can understand.
Discovering How Toddlers Learn Can Help Us Know When to Start Teaching Scientific Skills
A professor from Leiden University recently took an interest in his own child’s education and decided to start discussing astronomy with him and his classmates. He was amazed at how the young students were so excited when it came to learning more about space, viewing photos from the Hubble telescope, and all the wonders of the universe. After doing this, Professor George Miley decided to fund his own education program designed for children ages 4 to 10 years that would teach them all about astronomy on a level that they could understand and actually learn. The program is called Universe Awareness and it began in 2006.
UNAWE – Universe Awareness
Professor George Miley came up with the idea of starting an astronomy program to educate young children about astronomy and science. Prior to the start of UNAWE, he has received an Academy Professorship by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science. He used some of the funding to help him set up the UNAWE program.
Understanding More About the Discovering Age
Research performed at the University of California, Berkeley showed that young children think similar to the way that scientists do when they learn. They test out hypotheses and learn from performing experiments using hands-on techniques. That is why it is much easier to teach children about science and astronomy than we may think. And this research supports the vision that Professor Miley has regarding UNAWE and how allowing young children to learn about astronomy and other areas of science at an early age can be very beneficial to them.
How to Introduce the World of Astronomy to your Child
While astronomy may seem like a big word for little ones to grasp, once you begin you will be surprised at how quickly they catch on. Here are a few helpful tips on how you can teach your child all about the stars and sky even before they begin attending school.
Teaching Preschoolers About the Planets
You never know when you may have a little astronomer on your hands. And to see their eyes light up with wonder when you begin to teach them about astronomy can be a memorable experience for you both. While they still may be too young to memorize constellation names, preschoolers can still learn the names of the planets, their colors, and interesting facts about them.
You may want to schedule a trip to a local observatory or science museum where they can get a great visual representation of the galaxy. Even something as simple as creating a 3-D model of the planets and the Sun or add glow-in-the-dark planet stickers to their bedroom ceiling can help to spark their interest in the subject and cause them to start asking questions.
Teaching Young Children About the Sun and Stars
There are all types of mini telescope sets designed to help teach kids about the wonders of space at an early age. Just be sure to do your research on these telescopes. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. To get a good view of the stars, moon, and planets, you will need to invest in a good quality telescope. While you may be wary about allowing your toddler to use such expensive equipment, older children can easily catch a view of moon craters and sometimes even our planets with some assistance. Teach about how the sky and telescope are used to help us learn more about the planets in our galaxy. Look up images of falling stars and comets to help your child grow more interested in celestial events.
There are also hundreds of games and activities that you can find online, designed for children of all ages that can teach them basic facts about astronomy and science.
It can be difficult to pinpoint what subjects your child will be interested in when they get older. While they are a toddler, they are learning all about the world around them and taking in as much knowledge as they can each day. By taking the time to slowly teach them about the stars, planets, sun, and moon in simple terminology, you will be able to teach them about the entire universe around them and enlighten their minds.