How to Teach Science at Home
Delving into science at home is an incredibly natural and enjoyable activity! Science education in children is an important part of intellectual development. In primary grades 1-6, it is sensory oriented, utilizing visual, tactile, auditory, gustatory (taste), and olfactory phenomena, applying names and terminology, and “experiencing” science. Study in science education is largely gathering facts and observations. Playing outside, exploring the backyard with a close look, collecting specimen, keeping nature notebooks, reading books on science topics, hatching chicks, star gazing, studying annual cycles, obtaining a decent microscope, weather station, rock collecting, keeping pets, conducting experiments and keeping a garden are easy ways to promote a learning and a love for science.
In upper grades, 7-12, the science disciplines deepen as students begin to seek answers to their questions. Formal study in science now engages foundational knowledge in natural phenomena, history, mathematics, reading, vocabulary, and grammar, and through formal study, students continue to develop skills in observation, reasoning, memorization, and writing. Fortunately for parents, many different curricula are available for families to obtain a robust science education at home!
For families wanting an organized curriculum, my favorite Christian science curriculum is the Apologia line for elementary, parent supervised study. These texts are filled with fascinating, easy to read descriptions of science topics and many, many demonstrations and activities. The high school texts are well designed for students learning on their own, as explanations are simplified for the average student and allows the student to learn a great deal of information. The experiments are numerous, easy to follow, interesting, and give a general appreciation for topics in science.
A newer curriculum by Novare Science and Math promotes a mastery-based approach, building sequentially year after year, adding mathematical and conceptual theories each year and culminating in a very robust science education with long-term retention. There are two lines of Novare curriculum: grade-level and accelerated depending on the math sequence your student is in. Both programs promote physics in 9th grade and provide excellent materials for experimentation, writing lab reports and communicating scientific findings! This program is available through Classical Academic Press and has great parent support is available through the ClassicalU podcast program and test and answer keys. Novare has a sister line of secular science texts under the name of Centripetal Press, utilizing a similar Learn-Master-Retain approach.
Additionally, STEM skills and experiences can also be obtained while educating at home. Numerous free computer programming tutorials exist online covering a wide range of languages and applications. Codecademy.com and Pleuralsite.com are two resources, and simple internet searches for programming tutorials will produce a wide variety of options. Hands-on opportunities in STEM also exist. One year we did a SeaPerch competition building underwater remotely operated vehicles. My youngest two children have been involved in FIRST robotics programs for the last three years (firstinspires.org). We started a First Lego League team in our basement three years ago using Lego Mindstorms, and now we have five Lego teams and a First Tech Challenge team in our community library (hanoverlibraryrobotics.org)! These programs can be started by anyone! No experience necessary! They provide an outstanding opportunity for perhaps the most invaluable educational experience for children: patient problem solving and problem-based learning! I consistently evaluate this program as possibly the best thing I have done for my kids. It teaches team work, collaboration, interaction with engineering experts, competition with gracious professionalism, persistence, core values, engineering design cycle, problem solving, business planning, marketing, public speaking, fundraising, engineering, programming, and conflict resolution. Keep a look out for these types of opportunities near you!
There are numerous science and STEM opportunities out there, and Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews (cathyduffyreviews.com) can give further information on the structure of the academic programs. The most important point to take home from this blog is DO NOT LET A FEAR OF TEACHING SCIENCE KEEP YOU FROM EDUCATING YOUR CHILDREN AT HOME! In contrast, it will probably be their favorite subject at home!