Ayah Bdeir, founder of littleBits, considers how children can be more involved in STEM, helping empower them to solve the challenges of the future. Here she gives her top trends for 2019.

With the current STEM job shortage costing the UK an average £1.5bn per year, STEM has taken its place as a must-have skill for today’s students. As a result, classrooms and libraries are looking to new ways to incorporate STEM learning in 2019.

The next year in STEM will be all about:

Focusing on code: Steve Jobs said: “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think. I view computer science as a liberal art.” And he might be right.

Computer science and Engineering graduates are currently the highest paid, and industry demand for coding jobs is far higher than the current number of workers who are qualified to do the work. 2019 will be the year that educators focus in on giving kids a solid foundation in coding so that they can be competitive in the future of work.

Teaching our teachers: Many teachers were not taught STEM topics when they were in school – with just 47% of them having a relevant GCSE and this number drops to 20% in the most deprived schools. As the need for coding instruction in the classroom increases, professional development for teachers will take centre stage in 2019.

Incorporating STEM into other subjects: Kids need to see science, technology, engineering, and math in subjects that are not science, technology, engineering, and maths. STEM is quickly becoming a part of every subject, and in the coming year, educators will increasingly incorporate STEM lessons into English, History, Social Studies, Photography, and every subject in between.

Making time for play: According to researchers at Stanford University, too much homework could mean that kids don’t have a chance to meet their developmental needs or cultivate other critical life skills. That’s why no-homework policies for primary school children across the UK are becoming more popular as teachers make more time for play and exploration at home.

In 2019, expect to see educators advocating for play-based learning – both in and out of the classroom.

Project-based learningPBL will be incorporated into more schools across the country. Schools will introduce students to authentic problems and challenges, then encourage them to gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time on solutions. Give kids access to the tools they need to invent solutions to real-world problems. Apart from the obvious benefits they get from hands-on learning, students also experience the magic of cross-collaboration.

Parental involvement: When parents are more involved in education, their kids tend to have better educational outcomes – including better grades, social skills, and behaviour. As more parents become aware of their potential impact, they will become more involved in their kids’ learning, both in the classroom and at home.