How to introduce science to your toddler

Your little one is already a natural scientist!

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Nevena and Stasa play at the park in Kragujevac, Serbia.
UNICEF/UN0465502/Pancic
12 February 2022

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The good news for parents is that science comes naturally to young children. Toddlers conduct experiments all the time — dropping objects, splashing in the bath and rolling a ball are all ways that your little one is exploring and learning about the world around them. Even if you have been away from the scientific world for a while, there is plenty you can do to help guide your child toward making new discoveries. Here are some ways you can help support your little scientist.

Let your child lead

See what interests your little one naturally. They will try to solve problems on their own, such as trying different ways of fitting a puzzle piece. Give them the room to figure out the problem, but be ready to support if they get stuck. Of course, if anything seems unsafe it is important to step in and assist!

Talk it out

Talk to your child about what’s happening when they are playing and experimenting. For example, you could use bath time to explore what objects float and which sink. Ask questions to encourage your child to gain a deeper understanding – “Why do you think that toy stayed on top of the water and the other sank down?”

Go outside

There is so much to discover outdoors! Go for a walk with your child and talk about what animals you see, what the weather is like and what plants are growing. Gently touch leaves and rocks, listen to the sounds the animals make and talk about the experiences you are having. Ask your child why they think leaves and flowers have different colours and smells. You could also try talking about the weather outside: “Is it sunny or cloudy out today?” This will help to develop your child’s interest in the natural world.

Encourage curiosity

Present your child with different objects such as leaves, shells, rocks or soft fabric. Invite them to feel and explore each one. Talk about what makes them similar or different. This will help encourage your child to be curious and to explore the concepts of shape, size and texture. You could try this with foods they eat too: “Is it sweet or sour?” “Is it soft or crunchy?”

Join in the learning

The most important thing is not to have all of the answers, but to be your child’s partner in finding them. Watch what happens when you mix different coloured paints together or see which ball bounces higher. If your child asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, write it down so that you can answer it together later. Remember, science is all about exploring and asking questions – that isn’t limited to just your toddler! Enjoy learning together as you embark on your scientific discoveries.

Article by Mandy Rich, Digital Content Writer, UNICEF