Homeschool science is my favorite thing. Yet, most parents (and even school curricula) approaches science in the worst and most boring way possible: as a list of facts to memorize.
With the development of the concept of STEM and STEAM, I have hope. People are realizing that science is best learned through DOING. Exploring. Experiencing. Science is a verb.
People are starting to realize that kids can learn quite a bit from tinkering with cheap and small objects when they are working to meet a challenge.
Why does homeschool science matter?
Because science is a process. A way of asking and answering questions. It is public discourse on our shared experience of this world.
It’s the best way to free our kids to explore their world and discuss their experiences.
Like, last spring, I discovered a robin’s nest in the bush in front of our house. This was so exciting because it held eggs and was on my eye level.
We watched the babies hatch, grow feathers, and hop around to learn to fly. We read about bird nests, eggs, American robins, worms, and so much more.
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Well, I had every intention of starting formal lessons at 9 am, but the garden needed watering, then we discovered the baby birds hatched, and then we found a wild raspberry bush, then we needed to feed mama bird some worms. We may not have learned percents, or letters, or numbers, but this morning’s activities taught adventure, compassion, and the wonder of the natural world. I would rather my kids have this experience than being inside on this glorious morning! #homeschoolblog #homeschooldays #homeschooldoneright #homeschoolmom #treasurethesedays #daysarelongyearsareshort
Homeschool Science: Play at Work
Simply put, kids learn best through play.
Second, this benefit of using play in the classroom extends all through elementary school, and can probably be harnessed all through life.
There are tons of puzzles, card games, board games, and video games that educators use successfully to promote long term learning.
Third, play encourages kids to explore their world. Ever wonder why your kid makes the same noise over and over?
They are looking to see if it always feels the same in their body, if it sounds the same, and how they can change it.
But my main point is that play is the way in which we can easily teach kids about cause and effect, reasoning, their world, and to seek out information and truth of their own accord.
Bringing Science and Play together
I teach my kids that science is a verb. Science is a method of asking questions and observing the reaction. And so is play.
How can we meld science and play?
First, focus on exploration. Focus on giving your child hands-on activities or games. Encourage them to tinker and figure out how things work. Let them struggle with it. To experience it.
Second, the read about what you did. Watch videos. Try again.
How To Approach
This part is going to focus on science skills.
I want to get the homeschool community talking about some important misunderstandings about science. Science is NOT a list of facts to memorize. It isn’t dry. It happens outside, in the bath, watching a storm, and every other moment of our day.
In order to fully understand science, we must remember that science is a way of exploring our world, and then making sense of our shared experience. That means we have to organize that process into 3 prongs.
A 3 Pronged Approach
Parents need to view science as having 3 categories: Fields of Study, Experimental, Logic.
Fields of Study
Remember when you had biology, chemistry, and physics? Maybe at a younger age, you took classes called things like “Life Science” or “Physical Science”. These are like genres of science.
And these different fields of study are all jumbled up in younger kids’ textbooks that are titled generic Science. This is where we get the idea that science is just a list of facts.
You can pursue curricula like textbooks in each individual field of study, and some people use only living books as their curriculum. A lot of people supplement with fun demonstrations and models.
But one important thing to understand is that for younger kids, it is completely fine to put this on the back burner for more instruction in critical thinking and logic.
The scientific method is a meticulous thing, and kids need to learn to run thorough experiments from a young age.
Older kids need to understand that recording and analyzing data is the cornerstone of science and have ample opportunity to practice both.
Running simple experiments and watching simple demonstrations, keeping a journal, and STEM challenges are easy ways to introduce the heart of science to your kids.
What is the difference between a demonstration and an experiment? Many people use them interchangeably (or just use experiment), but they are not the same thing!
An experiment answers a question and compares two different outcomes.
A demonstration usually has a set of directions and you are pursuing a single outcome.
Last, many people overlook the importance of recording data in science. I would encourage you to always record results in some sort of format like tables, tally marks, dot plots, etc.
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Clear thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving are skills that can be learned. We need to spend time exploring how to think and weigh possibilities with our kids. Understanding cause and effect, how to spot logical fallacies and work against cognitive biases are integral for exceptional science education!
Preschool and elementary kids can learn so many critical thinking skills from STEM and STEAM challenges, math, and reading. Older kids can work through logical fallacy and debate curricula.
This part of the approach is dedicated to teaching our kids to think so they can fully experience the depth of homeschool science.
Would you like to hear more about experiential learning? Leave a comment below!