Science…..The mere word conjures up images of lab coats, beakers, and safety glasses. In the homeschool realm, however, labs, chemicals, and equipment are not so readily available. Beyond that, many in the faith based homeschool community take issue with certain aspects of science that are taught in public schools. As a result, they can be leery of the subject. This, unfortunately, can lead to an avoidance of science altogether. In this day and age, science and math careers are valued more than ever, and it is increasingly important to raise children who have fa firm grasp of scientific topics and thinking. So, how can that be accomplished in a homeschool environment? It’s easier than you think.
Familiarity with scientific knowledge is part of producing a well rounded individual. The scientific method encourages objectivity, experimentation, and analytical skills, as well as developing higher level thinking skills that students will carry with them throughout life. In addition, conducting scientific experiments, whether they succeed or fail, teaches students that even failures are opportunities to learn. The ability to approach problems with logic and objectivity will carry over into whatever career path they choose. Working these concepts into a homeschool day can be as simple as letting your child conduct an experiment to answer one of their own questions. If the child is young, in the height of “question asking” years, conduct the experiment with them. Laugh and have fun if it fails, and talk about what the failure teaches you both, so that they see that failures can always be made into learning opportunities. Kitchen experiments are among the easiest and most fun for kids to do. Creating their own food combinations and predicting whether the results will taste good or not is simple and the results will certainly make an impression as they taste their own creations.
Outdoors, studying things such as nature and weather open the door to incorporating many subjects into one lesson, as well as teaching the value of observing the world around us. Collecting and identifying leaves, rocks, or insects on a nature hike allow your child to explore and exercise, while learning a new way to look at the world around them. Nature is beautiful, and being outside is fun, but it can also be scientific. Nature journals let them keep records of their observations, while honing writing skills. Teaching them to look up information on the what they find encourages independent investigation, and they can write reports about their discoveries. Does your child love computers and iPads? Teach them that those wouldn’t exist without science, and perhaps delve in to the world of basic programming concepts and how circuits work. They can build their own circuits from kits designed for kids, or learn to code with fun, creative apps.
Science is all around us, yet I hear so many students (and parents!) talk about how “hard” it is. If you want to raise scientifically smart kids, all it takes is some creativity to take the “hard” out of your science curriculum and replace it with “fun.”
Mimi Rothschild is a veteran homeschooling mother of 8, writer of a series of books called Cyberspace for Kids, and passionate advocate for children and education that is truly worthy of them. In 2001, Mimi and her late husband founded Learning By Grace, a leading provider of online Christian homeschooling Academies.