There’s no denying that physics often ranks high up in the list of students’ least favourite subjects. Indeed, the very mention of the word can already strike fear into every teenager’s heart. It’s a pity because children are born scientists — what’s more, they are natural physicists.
Think back to when you were a child being fascinated with magnets, floating objects, and lights and shadows. Children enjoy physics before they know what it actually is, and they find it endlessly fascinating. The subject may be a required part of the school curriculum, but it’s more than painful-looking formulas and abstract concepts. It’s also an accessible and relevant part of everyday life.
As a parent, the onus is on you to keep your child’s sense of wonder and delight alive in physics. Here are some ways to foster their love for the subject and lay a solid foundation for lifelong curiosity and learning.
1. Encourage them to ask questions.
Children ask the most perceptive questions to unravel the workings of the world, such as “why is the sky blue?” or “how do aeroplanes fly?” Enjoy discussing these questions with them and try to answer to the best of your ability. You can also weave a gentle introduction to physics terms into your answers, like force, mass, gravity, etc.
2. Guide their observations.
Make use of simple everyday objects and activities to demonstrate physics concepts. For instance, you can explain the Doppler Effect to your child while you’re both inside the car and listen to the degrees of change the sounds cars make as you approach, pass, and speed by them. Encourage your child to record their observations through writing, drawing, or taking photos to keep track of new curiosities and discoveries.
3. Let them explore.
Are you one of those ‘helicopter parents’ constantly hovering over your child and inhibiting their every move? Learning involves your child exploring freely and maybe even getting their hands dirty. When you keep them from trying new things, it crushes their curiosity. You can instead provide positive reinforcement and a sense of safety for them as they go out of their comfort zone and make discoveries.
4. Conduct fun experiments.
Science experiments are based on the premise of demonstration-based learning. You can teach physics concepts to your kids with experiments that they can see and experience. There are experiments your child shouldn’t do on their own but would be fun for you to do together. Why not teach them about acceleration with an “egg drop experiment” or energy, power, and propulsion with “soda bottle rockets”? Through these experiments, they learn more about physics in a fun and hands-on way.
5. Provide them with the resources.
As your child exhausts the wonders of the natural world, you’ll have to provide them with some other way to satiate their curiosity. Why not obtain some science books or perhaps biographies of famous scientists? You can also subscribe to a science magazine. As their puppy love for science gets deeper, you’ll have to find new ways to keep them occupied, whether through educational apps, websites, movies, and documentaries that make physics enjoyable for them.
The earlier you encourage your child to embrace their natural curiosity, the more likely they will have a positive attitude about physics. It’s never too late or too early to help your child discover their love for the subject. Even when they are already in school, there’s plenty of scope to discover physics’ wonders and attractions. You can enrol them in an H2 physics tuition class to make physics fun, relevant, and digestible for them, and get them a learned and competent physics tutor to help them forge their success in the subject.