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Early STEM Matters: Providing High-Quality STEM Experiences for All Young Learners

Abstract

"The Early Childhood STEM Working Group is a group of scholars, policymakers, curriculum developers, and educators who share a common goal and vision of universal access to high-quality, developmentally appropriate STEM education for preschool children. The Working Group met over a two-year span to pool knowledge about the development of STEM concepts and practices during the early years, discuss ways to support early STEM education, and make achievable recommendations to promote research, practice, and advocacy that will lead to high-quality STEM experiences for all young children. This report is the culmination of those efforts.

Early childhood education and STEM education are both at the forefront of recent education discussions in the policy realm and in the media. But they are rarely talked about together, despite important overlaps. High-quality early childhood education must include attention to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. And, just as with language and literacy, STEM education should start early in order to maximize its benefits and effectiveness. With so much attention focused on early childhood education and STEM education separately, our aim in this report is to build on the current momentum and public discourse to create and enact an ambitious but achievable vision for the future of young children's STEM education.

The report is intended to provide guidance to education leaders, including school and district leaders and decision makers, policy makers at the local, state, and federal levels, researchers, and those who fund education initiatives. It offers four guiding principles and six actionable recommendations. The guiding principles are overarching conceptual commitments about young children and STEM education. They reflect our larger philosophy regarding early childhood STEM education and are embedded in each of the six recommendations. The recommendations identify specific steps involving policy, practice, and research that will promote dramatic improvement in early STEM education for all young children."

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