Monday 22 October 2012

When is a child old enough to do science?

So yesterday Harmonie and I got busy: we made cakes, done some of her magazine, made slime and painted with slime!  It's so lovely she's getting so involved with so much now.  I remember someone a while back saying they didn't feel their child was ready for science experiments yet.  Perhaps she was right, after all we know our own children better than anyone one else, what I don't like is the whole age thing to be honest.  I don't believe it's how clever a child is sometimes either; I think it is more about personality.
I'll try and explain what I mean. 

When Chiara and Naomi were Honi's age, 5, I could trust them to listen to instruction, if I asked nicely for something back, there would be no argument, no worry of danger but this is not the way with my dear sweet Honi.
I just could not and would not leave her to add something like iodine to a solution for example.  I would fear that she would so her screamy, throw and thrash about thing she does when she feels frustrated if I was to ask her to stop or give something back; I would be too concerned for it to be eaten for splashed in someones eyes.  One thing I do know is that Honi likes science, Honi is independent, Honi LOVES learning and most importantly I don't want to slow her down or make her learning experiences a negative one.  I have found a solution though;  I have found that looking for alternative safer experiments and projects allow for her to learn in the way she needs to.  Like with the corn flour experiment yesterday and the emulsion experiment the other week.
I have found that this process is also helping Harmonie get more involved, which is exactly what she is wanting at the moment.  Although Harmonie is only 2 and a half she listens more than HB Honi Bunny so they can work together most of the time too, but as I say that's a personality thing, not an age thing.

Of course children are always experimenting in life really, from the moment they are born in fact.  I suppose, what I am saying, is when is it time to add a little more structure to their learning and how to get round the dangers so that our child's learning flow isn't stopped unnecessarily. 


  1. Personally I think they are born learning about science. The first overt scientific experiment for us is usually something to do with gravity - closely followed by water flow, and gravity.

  2. I think you've identified your own answer Lisa! They're scientifically exploring from the minute they are born really. Learning through play is totally the best way for them to learn the properties of things, how things behave, what they're made of, how they react and many of the most famous scientists made discoveries through play, would you believe! Experimentation with substances, tools and processes is the absolute best foundation for science your child could have (guided by safety of course) and the more they do it the more they'll learn the principles for themselves. So I would say there is no need to formalise any of it till much, much later. For now allow her to investigate and enjoy, and use your own snippets of conversations and information to increase her understanding along the way. Don't forget just because it's not formal, doesn't mean it's not educative! BWs x