The importance of learning science for young children

Young children are naturally inquisitive, full of questions about the world around them and the drive to investigate how things work. It follows, therefore, that we should take advantage of this innate curiosity and start channelling their enthusiasm for scientific discovery as early on as possible.

Providing opportunities for scientific discovery in early years settings is beneficial to young children in several ways: Starting with a simple idea children are able to try and prove or disprove an idea, learn from the outcome and improve their knowledge, much like the fundamental process that scientific research follows.

Young children are natural scientists. Much of what they do in their self-chosen play activities mirrors what takes place in the real world of science. Children observe, explore, experiment and love to figure out how things in the physical world work. Much like scientists using the scientific method, children have their theories about how the world works (their hypotheses), they test those theories (the experiment), they observe what happens (collect the data), and then try again (revise the theory and conduct another experiment).

Even the very simplest activities can introduce children to scientific concepts and stimulate scientific thinking. Early years science education can provide a strong foundation in terms of both what is learned, and how it’s learned, that will stand them in good stead. By encouraging and directing their natural curiosity, and familiarising them with basic scientific vocabulary, early years educators can help children begin to make sense of the world around them, and gain some understanding of how things work.