For our family, the Apologia science texts have been a great fit, suiting our style and method of homeschooling. They may not be the most scholarly of texts, but my boys have been given lots to think about as they work through this series of science books. I have found them to be very friendly to a Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. The texts are meaty enough on their own, but I wanted to add some life and spirit to the information with additional meaningful supplements.
Using The Text as a Spine – Then Add Enhancements
Using them as a spine, I enhance our science courses with activities that make our learning more alive. Although all my children are interested in science, it is not their area of specialization so I think that using this series of texts, along with the lab work, has been academic enough. If they decide to pursue science after high school, I am confident that these texts have put down a good foundation.
It has always been important in our family to develop a great love for learning and creating a love for science is part of that goal. Charlotte Mason said that a love of learning is nurtured and fed by good ideas and a relationship with the material being presented. I have tried to apply this concept to our study of science using the Apologia texts.
My Plan for Biology – Using Charlotte Mason’s Principles
If you are thinking about using their biology text, Exploring Creation with Biology, you might be interested in my suggestions for adding in more of Charlotte Mason’s ideas that I share on this Squidoo Lens: Apologia Science: Exploring Creation with Biology. I also applied the same concepts to our study of Marine Biology using the Apologia text.
Any text is a tool and you can make it work to fit your child. Just because a text has a certain plan for its study, don’t forget that you can adapt the plan so your children get the most out of that text.
Occasionally my youngest son gets bogged down with the “why do I have to study this” attitude when it comes to certain aspects of science…usually the lab work. When this happens we have a conference together and brainstorm some ideas to get him going again. I usually find out that it is not so much a “why do I have to do this” attitude but a “I would rather focus on this aspect of the topic” situation. We work together to get him over the hump and back on track. I think this is a step towards self-education but still with my hand in the mix. I realize that the high school age child is really trying to comprehend how what they study is related to them in some way. They get the facts, they have the context, and now they want to make it relevant by having their own “conversation” with the materials. This takes a certain amount of flexibility on my part.
Mix It Up-Research Module Topics and Create a Report
I have my son pick one main idea from a module and do research about it instead of the module work. He loves it when I let him do this. He still reads the text and then comes up with a few ideas to look up on the internet and/or at the library. After the basic research, he spends a few hours saturating himself in that one topic and then he produces some sort of follow up project to present to me at the end of the module.
The project could be a poster, a Powerpoint presentation, an essay, some nature journals, or an oral report. He uses the project to demonstrate that he has a grasp of the science concept and that he has made some sort of connection to the ideas presented in the topic. Learning is more fun this way and allowing a creative product at the end instead of a test is refreshing for all involved. The end product gives his ideas and thinking a shape that the whole family can enjoy experiencing when it is finished.I would rather my boys had a notebook full of diagrams, sketches, lab sheets, and notes that mean something to them rather than a 100% on a test that perhaps doesn’t reflect what they did or did not learn.
Since we are not striving for complete knowledge of any area of science in our homeschooling, but rather to arouse interest and a love for science, these ideas work well in our family. I realize there will be “holes” to fill in the future if needed and I can live with that. My job is not to fill them up with lots and lots of knowledge but to spark a love for learning that will carry over into their adult life where they can self-educate or take additional classes to fill in where they are interested.
Next year we will be tackling Exploring Creation with Chemistry together. I used this text with my oldest son a number of years ago, before Charlotte Mason entered my life. I am anxious to start brainstorming some fresh ideas to go along with this hefty text. (Just a note to those paying attention: We have mixed up the usual science sequence and left a study of chemistry for last. No particular reason except that I wasn’t mentally prepared to offer chemistry until now.)
One last note: I read a lot about the debate over Apologia and their take on evolution and the young earth/old earth teachings. I look at it this way: I offer my boys the Apologia texts with supplements that teach even further about these topics from different points of view. We have read The Origin of Species, Darwin’s Black Box, and several other books that present varying sides of this debate. We *talk* a lot about these things in connection with our Bible study and our faith. I hope and pray that my children, all four of them, will have the skills and ability to decide using evidence what they believe and how this relates to their relationship to the Creator of the universe. They know where I stand and they know other views as well. I do not mean to spark a debate here on my blog but just to briefly address the negative take on all the Apologia Science texts.
I am submitting this entry to the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival and if you have any entries you would like to submit, you can send them to this email address: [email protected].