Autonomy is defined as having independence or freedom from others. We value this in America because we want our children to grow up to be critical thinkers. This means that we want adults to be able to make decisions that fall within the realms of what is morally right. We want kids to grow up to make moral decisions, which sometimes means challenging tried and true rules and opinions. This is why it’s important for them to be critical thinkers.
If a child is able to develop a sense of autonomy, they are instilled with a sense of self-confidence that allows them to question what they are told in a responsible way. They are able to look at the world through a critical eye that eventually might lead to positive changes through exploration of other options.
From a young age, having the opportunity to make choices helps to nurture a sense of autonomy because it allows a child to practice making decisions. They practice making both wrong and right decisions and ideally are given the freedom to navigate their way to the better choice. Care givers provide a venue for children to test out their ideas about the world safely.
Some communities are recognizing the importance of providing new and enriching ways to educate our nation’s children. STEM, a program which emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and math, has been incorporated into elementary schools in Manhattan. It is the basis of a nationwide trend to transform education away from humanities and toward the sciences.
And what better way to develop autonomy than through the sciences, where we are taught to think critically about issues and develop and test hypotheses?
At World of Enrichment, our Science 4 Kids classes offer children the opportunity to develop their sense of autonomy. We recognize that science is a part of our daily life, and that opportunity abounds in cooking, athletics, gardening, technology, and many other areas.
Science 4 Kids enables children to predict, observe, compare, classify, measure, make inferences, and communicate what they learn, be it right or wrong. Children are provided the opportunity to think critically about the world, to make hypotheses, and then to devise creative ways to test their predictions.
This is an excellent way to boost both self-confidence and encourage critical thinking, the foundation of autonomy.