Thanks to the rapid advance of science and technology, America is always struggling to find enough engineers to meet its needs. If your child is naturally gifted with their hands, you may have wondered how to raise an engineer.
As a father of 3, here’s what I know so far:
Start encouraging and stimulating a child’s brain young; even as a small baby. They need visual stimulation to encourage brain development and hands-on activities to encourage hand-eye coordination. Read to them daily, talk to them constantly, and encourage social interaction with others.
But there’s a lot more that goes into raising a child and encouraging their natural talents and helping motivate them towards a career in engineering.
Believe it or not, there are thousands of available engineering positions – and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there to be hundreds of thousands of more openings over the next decade.
Engineering is one of the most rewarding careers on the market, offering not only high pay but high satisfaction ratings in nearly every field, according to TargetJobs.
As a result, many parents eagerly push their children into STEM education.
They also push hands-on extracurricular activities with the hopes of raising natural engineers. In truth, it is possible to raise a child with the curiosity, creativity and hard skills necessary to thrive in engineering.
But parents must start when their children are young – even newborn.
Of course, parents should never force a child into a career path they aren’t inspired by. But here’s how parents can mold their children’s talents and interests to fit those of an engineer.
How do you raise a genius baby?
Though there are some studies on color psychology that indicate nursery colors could affect a baby’s mood, according to Dr. Sears, visual stimulation is crucial for newborns to help a “baby’s brain thrive and develops by leaps and bounds”.
There is plenty of evidence that babies don’t see colors until they are a few months old. But visual stimulation is critical to help not only their eyes, but their brains develop.
As the baby gets older they naturally start looking around for visual stimulation. So, make sure you give your baby access to plenty of brain-fueling patterns and textures.
Beyond visual stimulation, make sure the following become part of you and your child’s everyday routine:
- Talk to them every day all day – They may seem like they aren’t responding or understanding, but they are learning constantly. For that reason, especially as they approach the toddler age, watch what you say as they love to repeat back
- Read books aloud with them every day – Books have words, meaning, expressions, colors. But they also have animals, objects, people, places, and things, all of which stimulate their minds and imaginations
- Go out and explore – My wife has a tradition we’ve used with all 3 of our daughters called “Field Trip Fridays” where every Friday is adventure day to go explore museums, zoos, playgrounds, and other fun hands-on exploration
How can I improve my toddler’s IQ?
It is cute to see young children toting dolls and stuffed animals. However, a kid’s first toys have a significant influence on the skills they develop early on. That continues and grows throughout their lives.
Thus, parents should choose toys that give kids a well-rounded skillset perfect for engineering. Though most toys tend to come and go in trends, there are amazing sensory toys that any parent should be able to find, including:
- Lego, K’NEX and similar erector sets
- Robotic toys
- Crystal growing kits
- Magnet science kits
- Jigsaw puzzles
Ironically, our children’s brains have reached about 90% of its full adult size before they even hit kindergarten, according to WebMD. But the danger becomes when parents are so eager for their child to become a genius, that they push them too hard too fast.
Ross A. Thompson, a professor of psychology at the University of California warns “lower circuits in the brain must be built before higher circuits, and advanced skills must be based on basic skills”.
In other words, don’t put the cart before the horse. You can’t build a house before you pour the foundation.
So read to them, pay attention to their diet and limit high-sugar foods and drinks and products made with artificial colors and flavors. Encourage them when they do well, but avoid shaming them when they fall short of expectations.
Food and diet play a critical role in brain development for our kids.
In a recent article, I go into great detail on how to set your kids up for success with foods. Kids can be picky, no doubt, but as a father of 3 and having worked for Whole Foods Market for 2+ decades, I definitely know how to balance good food and actually getting kids to eat it without a battle.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
See which classes your child gravitates towards
When children first begin attending school, they have some idea of their interests and talents.
Naturally, some kids will gravitate toward certain subjects. But other kids will naturally go in other directions. Those destined for careers in engineering will naturally be drawn towards the following subjects:
Parents can definitely influence younger students’ directions in school. However, as they get older and head into middle school, it gets more difficult.
At that point, they are starting to become young adults and starting to need you less.
For greater control, parents can choose to participate in homeschooling. But this does largely sacrifice their children’s development of soft skills.
How social interaction affects children and an engineering career
I mentioned homeschooling above. While there are lots of benefits of homeschooling, there are some important drawbacks too.
In my day job running a large martial arts school, I see some of the social challenges homeschooled kids have. If those same kids are also given free rein on technology use, then, it’s very easy for them to become emotionally and socially stunted.
Social, emotional, and communication skills are critical to all professionals, especially engineers who often work in teams to complete projects.
So, homeschooling might not be the best solution for all children. If you do homeschool, make sure and set strict limits on technology use and be part of a homeschool community that gets together a few times a week to stimulate social interaction.
Love it or not, technology is part of our everyday lives and it’s going away.
That being said, there are some significant ways that technology affects the brain negatively. As parents, it’s important to recognize that. No one enjoys just coming home and relaxing after a hard day more than me. And I get that sometimes giving our kids tech time helps facilitate that.
In a recent article, however, I break down some of the dangers of letting that go unchecked. What really surprised me was what the scientific studies say as far as setting limits on kids and technology and some of the terrible results that have been reported when that doesn’t happen.
Just click the link to read it now on my site.
How college affects kids and career paths
By the time college applications roll around, parents should be relatively certain whether or not their children are destined for the engineering life.
To become an engineer, students must complete a five-year bachelor’s degree in their engineering field of choice.
Parents should help their teens research various universities’ engineering programs to help them make informed decisions regarding their college studies — but by this time, parents shouldn’t be trying to force non-engineers onto the engineering path.
If children have not shown interest or talent in STEM fields before now, college is not the time to redirect.
For some engineering fields, graduate-level education is advised if not required.
Engineers who have great ambition to climb the career ladder should consider pursuing master’s degrees in eLearning environments, like through this online master’s program in control systems engineering or other engineering management programs.
This level of education enhances an engineer’s earning potential, so it is something that parents of engineers should likely push for.
All parents want the best for their kids, so it makes sense that many parents want to raise their children to become engineers.
Though children will have hundreds of influences on the course of their lives, parents can generate curiosity in and instill the importance of certain hard skills from a child’s early age.
Doing this – and being loving and accepting of all a child’s interests – will result in a balanced child and perhaps a well-trained engineer adult.
Did I cover everything you wanted to know about how to raise an engineer?
In this article, we took a look at the world of STEM, children’s development and how to stimulate their young minds.
We examined proven ways to boost IQ and support their natural brain development, and some key things to avoid also.
Ultimately, we looked at how to raise an engineer.