Homeschool Science: Things I Would Do Differently

Einstein Sketch
Mr. B’s sketch based on an illustration in Astronomy Magazine

“Mr. Fisher says, ‘There are real books, and there are textbooks.’ The day is soon coming when everyone will realize that textbooks have no educational value. We hardly ever use textbooks in our Parents Union Schools. Whenever possible, we use books that spark the imagination and have a touch of originality. These are the differences between a real book and a text book.
Charlotte Mason, volume 6 page 272

Teaching high school science can put fear in your heart. Science texts tend to be a little overwhelming and can increase your anxiety that you cannot offer high school science in your home. Setting that fear aside and keeping in mind your goals, it is possible to have a great science experience at home.  Here are a few thoughts from my brain this week on how I would handle the teaching of science in our home if I could go back and do it again.

1. Throw out the preplanned sequences, especially in the lower grades. I can see the wisdom now in allowing the younger years to be left open for exploring and observing in nature. See volume 1 page 43-44 for more information on how to accomplish this with your little ones.

2. Include larger numbers of living books. Living books about nature and the world of science are much more interesting than any textbook. I have learned even in high school that a good interest-drawing book is worth its weight in gold. It takes some more thought and preparation but they are available for just about any topic. (I am working on a Squidoo lens to gather the living books we used for high school science.) Don’t rely solely on textbooks.

3. Do the best you can with labwork and leave the rest for a later date. Labs in high school science are highly overrated. I stressed too much over not having the right equipment and supplies to make labs “exciting”. Most labwork is not all that exciting since our homeschool labs and budgets do not allow room for the WOW! factor. I can offer simple labs that teach what I want my boys to learn: lab procedure, how to record a lab, and to think beyond the text. I am limiting the number of labs to those that are going to teach what they need to know and then leave the rest for online demos, YouTube videos, and then co-op classes, cc, and beyond. I hate it when you put in a lot of time, money, and effort and then the lab falls flat. All that fussing and you could have done just as well to have them watch an online demo and then research any questions or topics that come up.

4. Tell the story of science chronologically. I would teach more of the history of science with stories of scientists who were successful and also struggled and failed. I found a great series for using with our high school science that my boys loved and would narrate with enthusiasm. It tied history, science, and real people together. Check out the Story of Science series by Joy Hakim. Timeline work would be a part of science study.

5. Start the study of Greek and Latin roots early. This will make things easier once you get to high school biology, chemistry, and human anatomy. I used the Science Roots system from Paula of Paula’s Archives when the boys were studying biology and those vocabulary cards are coming back out now as we study human anatomy. She suggests you start the roots before you hit high school biology and I want to chime in to second that idea. Don’t wait…..

I am actually looking forward to Mr. B’s Human Anatomy and Physiology course this year. I chose a basic course that we are adding some CM style learning to with sketching, biographies, and narrative books. I was struggling with a text until I realized that I didn’t want a text… I came up with this:  Simple Schooling: Human Anatomy and Physiology Part 1 and there is a Part 2.

Don’t let high school science intimidate you when the time comes. Stay the course with Charlotte Mason’s principles and make it work in your family.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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