Teaching Science at Home
As a family, we tend to really enjoy science. We watch science documentaries. We love shows like How It’s Made and MythBusters. We get excited about trips to science museums. Our dinner time is often filled with discussions about science and technology. So what does science in our homeschool look like?
Over the years, my methods for teaching science have shifted according to the needs of my children. During the elementary school years, our studies were very relaxed and exploration based. We watched the Science Channel and checked out books by the basketful from the science section at the library. The girls did some notebooking and we also did a lot of hands-on projects. We picked up a curriculum occasionally, but usually drifted back into the informal science we loved.
As we moved into the middle school years, we started using more formal curriculum. I was enticed by a textbook science program for my oldest, but looking back, I think it was too soon and too dry. We limped through science in middle school for her, but by the time the younger two hit that age I had a better idea of what we needed for science. For them we chose more historical science texts like the Joy of Science series, did some hands on experiments, and filled the last year with Rainbow Science with labs. We also did many of the labs with a fellow homeschooler.
High school science has presented us with a lot of choices and opportunities. My oldest was able to spend a year working on a Anatomy and Physiology course that I put together myself. She also studied Biology at home, and is currently working through Chemistry while doing labs with another homeschool family. And while this isn’t typical, she has spent several years volunteering at a raptor rescue center learning about the science of veterinary care for birds through hands-on experience. My younger two are taking Biology I at co-op. This has been a great experience for them, and has pushed their abilities. Their teacher is a former Biology professor and hasn’t taken it easy on them! They have also benefited from learning to take notes from her lectures and forming study groups.
I am not sure what next year will bring for our family in the subject of science, but here are our tentative plans: My oldest, who will be a senior, technically doesn’t need another science credit for graduation but is thinking about taking Astronomy. She will be taking a portion of her classes at the community college as a dual credit student, so her science choice may change. One of my soon-to-be 10th graders is planning on taking Astronomy next year as well, and we will make sure there are plenty of labs to make it credit worthy. My other 10th grader is planning on taking a high school Forensic Science course next year at co-op. She is extremely interested in the field and I think this will be a good intro for her.
The nice thing I have discovered about high school science at home is the opportunity you have to tailor it to the interests of your child. Think beyond the typical high school science classes and explore what is out there in the field. Give your child the opportunity to specialize in a branch of science if she has a passion for it. Explore the options in your community for your child; you may be surprised at what is available. Seek out volunteer opportunities and mentors. This will take some leg work (and in my case a lot of driving) but the rewards are worth it.
Apryl–Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart. She lives out in the country with her husband and her three daughters. After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool. When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were in the third and sixth grades. Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.