A Long Island City early development center will now introduce STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to children 3 years old and under.
My Treehouse at 46-07 Vernon Blvd. is expanding its offerings with a new STEM program for children aged 8 months to 3 years in age. Center owner Robert Cilinghir shared that incorporating these subjects at an early age creates an open mind, instills a sense of curiosity and benefits children as learners in the future.
“[It allows] them to feel confident when learning these subjects in the future. We mostly follow the John Dewey philosophy, such as the belief that human beings learn through a ‘hands-on’ approach. However, we incorporate STEM,” Cilinghir said.
Xio Rosario, an instructor at the learning center, said that they try to incorporate STEM-related subjects every day of the week. Since the students are so young, the activities range from reading stories about topics like car mechanisms and the ABCs of space to going over flashcards about planets.
Instructors often take the children on nature walks to Gantry Plaza State Park, where the students learn about Earth science through seeing rocks, the water and living creatures. Rosario said that they teach the children how to respond to these lessons by encouraging finger pointing and incorporating sign language for children who may be nonverbal.
“With the repetitive way [of teaching], it eventually sticks,” said Rosario.
Cilinghir opened My Treehouse in June 2016 in an effort to help children “make sense of the world around them through playing.” According to Cilinghir, the new STEM program allows the children to develop social and cognitive skills while allowing them to mature emotionally and gain self confidence.
“They are motivated to engage in new experiences and environments. This is all through play, [which] we believe is essential for children’s growth. We incorporate these things on our walks to Gantry Park,” he said.
There are currently three classrooms at My Treehouse that incorporate STEM lessons for the children, which will be offered year round.
“The staff is loving, consistent and supportive and we’ve formed great relationships with students and their parents,” said Rosario. “We’ve made a lovely community at My Treehouse.”