Families' engagement with young children's science and technology learning at home

John Wiley and sons
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Science Education, 2001, 85 (4), pp. 454 - 481
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There is accumulating evidence of the worth of involving families in young children s learning in informal contexts. By exploring families engagement with their children s science and technology learning at home over a 6-month period, the present investigation sought to illuminate both the nature and the educational significance of what families do. Initially, in order to seed scientific and technological inquiry in homes, kindergarten and year-one children investigated flashlights with family members at school. Each day, equipment was available to take home. Using established anthropological methods, one of the researchers investigated children s further inquiries beyond the classroom in diverse ways; for example, by visiting homes and conversing via telephone and facsimile. The findings showed that families engaged with children s inquiries at home in many ways by providing resources, conversing, and investigating collaboratively with children. Moreover, when families pursued inquiries together and when children conducted their own sustained intellectual searches, children s ideas deepened. Such evidence of the educational significance of what families do suggests that early science and technology education might be made more effective if it were aligned with the ways people learn together outside formal institutions.
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