Thank you to Capital One for sponsoring this post
An image has the power to propel us back in time and unleash an array of emotions when it pops up during the most unexpected moments. Earlier this week I was scrolling through photos and came across the image of my daughter sitting in a metal chair among her classmates, bursting out in laughter for the first time during her elementary school promotion ceremony. The image of her joyful smile is one to be treasured because as I look at the girl in the chair, I could only think of how far we’ve come during the middle school years.
Shorter than time spent in elementary school and the 4 years spent in high school, middle school seems like a speedbump on the road of life. Although it may be quick, there are numerous lessons from the middle school years for parents and kids alike.
The smiling girl in the chair didn’t know what her future in middle school might hold. This new chapter in her life was filled with possibilities. She didn’t know her love of STEM subjects ran so deep that she’d apply to a high school magnet engineering program and choose to attend it, over going to school with her best friends.
Middle school is a time when our kids are reaching important milestones. We can’t help thinking about how much time flies, how quickly they grow, and what used to be.
As a mom with my daughter’s middle school years in my past, I find myself reflecting on these years, especially as parents ask me what I did to foster Emily’s love of STEM. I recently read , shared by STEM professionals at Capital One’s booth at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. The letters were written to students in Capital One’s Coders program, which is an ongoing effort to help students develop a greater interest in STEM subjects, specifically technology, engineering and mathematics during a critical period in their education. The program is part of Future Edge, Capital One’s initiative to invest in programs that help people succeed in the 21st century. This inspired me to share some advice with you, as parents of future technologists.
Dear Parents of Future Technologists,
I am a mom of a daughter who discovered she loves STEM subjects as much as your child does. I know this might be scary because these subjects may not have been your favorites but it’s important to encourage and embrace your child’s love of STEM. Over the past few years, I’ve learned some things and wanted to share some words of wisdom as you look to support your child and their STEM dreams.
Let your child dream big. Let go of your own insecurities when it comes to technology and make sure your child knows the future is theirs to discover. Endless opportunities await this new generation who have the power to create jobs that use technologies that might not even exist yet. Instead of telling them they can’t, let them think of the possibilities that could be a part of their exciting future.
Let them pursue opportunities aligned with their interests. From STEM toys, festivals, after-school activities, extra-curricular challenges, summer camps, and more, there is no shortage of age-appropriate engaging opportunities for STEM-loving kids. Fellow parents in your village, local colleges and universities, school clubs, and local camps can be avenues to discover rich experiences with hands-on learning that will also help your child determine what they love most about a specific area in STEM. Let them guide their learning by researching and pursuing the topics most aligned with their growing interests while you create opportunity and excitement for STEM careers.
Let your child know it’s ok to be afraid. Fear presents itself as uncertainty, anxiety, and lack of self-confidence in tweens and teens. These can be hard feelings for our kids to understand especially if they’re related to subjects that they excelled in previously. Reassure them that these feelings are natural. Remind them that confronting challenges is one of the best ways to learn and grow, and if they’re frustrated and tempted to quit STEM, let them know such moments are like speed bumps, rather than hurdles.
Let yourself be their biggest cheerleader. Celebrate the small successes, missteps, and big wins. Ah-ha moments are great motivators for our kids while missteps push them to reconceptualize a problem and learn from mistakes. Supporting them through their successes and missteps in STEM is equally important.
As parents, we can’t help thinking about how much time flies, how quickly they grow, and what used to be, especially when there’s middle school promotion on the horizon and your oldest is about to become a high schooler. But instead of getting wrapped up in the nostalgia of what used to be, it’s just as important to support the person your child is becoming and their hopes and dreams that are part of their STEM future. Technology is exciting and to our future technologists, the sky is truly the limit!
About Capital One Coders
This post was inspired by Capital One Coders Future Edge initiative and the Dear Future Technologist advice shared by STEM professionals with middle schoolers. Capital One Coders is a program provided by Capital One to expose middle school students to technology by partnering with schools and community leaders to foster a focus in software engineering. The program is an ongoing effort to help students develop a greater interest in STEM subjects, specifically technology, engineering, and mathematics during a critical period in their education. Capital One Coders also provides students and teachers with the resources necessary to learn on their own and continue their journey into the world of technology.
During the 10-week-long program, Capital One associate volunteers teach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students about problem solving, teamwork and the basic principles of software development. The program provides hands-on experience building their own applications and a chance to learn about coding, algorithms, loops, and conditional statements. Capital One recognizes the importance of letting kids dream while helping them develop the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
For more information about Capital One’s Future Edge program:
- Visit the Capital One Coders homepage
- Follow Capital One on Facebook, Instagram, and on Twitter (@CapitalOneTech)
- Learn more through these articles: Capital One Coders Helps Students Shape Their Future and Capital One Coders Makes STEM Learning Fun
I am being compensated for this post and for judging student created technology solutions during this year’s Capital One C1 Coders graduation. All opinions are my own and based on personal experience.