From among the many methods of homeschooling science, I have chosen to follow a directed unschooling approach in the grammar stage. I feel that learning about the world and what interests them most is the best way to instill a love of science in my children at the lower grades.
I allow them to explore and understand science in various ways. The first one is field trips – we have a lot of good museums and other opportunities in our area. The local science museum offers homeschool classes twice a year. The aquarium offers homeschool classes once a month. The children will learn information about different types of aquatic life and biomes, including sharks, animal defenses, and the deep sea. We are doing a field trip to the local children’s museum for a homeschool class about slime. We will visit the planetarium, as well as the local science museum monthly and various Smithsonian Museums throughout the year. There are classes offered for homeschool children at the local nature center. We did a session last year, and my eldest really enjoyed learning about different natural sciences including birds that live in the area. Exploring and seeing the world through various museums and other activities help bring science to life and show that it is part of the everyday world.
Another way I focus on science is by letting my children choose the topics they are interested in studying. This year that means my elder son will be doing a study of birds, specifically the blue jay. He also wants to learn more about space, rocks and minerals, and look at the human body again to learn more about our senses. My daughter is very interested in chemistry this year. She wants to learn about matter, elements, and the periodic table. It is not what I expected a kindergartner to choose, but it is one of her big interests. She also wants to learn about the human body and the muscles, organs and blood vessels that make up the body, space and being an astronaut, as well as learning about plants and animals. She has declared she needs to know everything she can about dolphins this year as well. With a basic idea of their interests, we can get books from the library and buy additional resource books for them to read about their interests. We can also look for apps for the iPad, computer resources, various science kits, and even board games to help them learn more information. Letting them choose their science topics gives them a good overview of different areas of science they find interesting and allows them a say in what they are studying which helps to keep them interested in the materials.
The third way I help them learn about science is through everyday life. We learn about chemical reactions and mixtures through cooking. They can see ice turn to water or water turn to ice by using fun molds and then watching it melt. They can learn about steam when the water pot boils for pasta and the steam escapes. We take nature walks and explore to see various wildlife – mainly birds and the occasional squirrel as well as caterpillars and other insects. While we do sometimes write down our observations, we often just talk about them and discuss why we think things happen. If we aren’t sure, we can always look it up in a book or online. This helps to stimulate their imagination and allows them to explore and learn about various science topics I might not have thought to bring up.
While a more unschooling-based science approach will not work for everyone in the grammar stage, I find that my children are learning a lot. This approach keeps their interest and makes them eager to explore and learn more about various scientific ideas and concepts, since they are the ones leading the way, while getting a broad overview of various branches of scientific research.
Sarah–Sarah is the wife of Dan and mom to Desmond, Eloise and Sullivan (Sully). She enjoys reading, board games, D&D, computer and console games, the Oxford comma, and organizing fun trips. Sarah and Dan decided years before they had children that they would be homeschooling and now they are. Their family has enjoyed beginning their homeschooling journey and the early elementary years. There are a lot of fun opportunities upcoming in the next year as well, including Eloise starting Kindergarten at home, numerous trips to Atlanta, and a month long trip to India. They currently reside in a suburb of Washington DC and enjoy all the local attractions available for day trips.