How and What to Teach with Science

Unit Studies are an ideal way to teach science for how and what to teach with science in your homeschool. You have the flexibility and freedom to determine what your children learn when and still satisfy the scope and sequence. Have fun!

How and What to Teach with Science

You’ve asked the question, “Should I Teach Science in my Homeschool?” and have decided to make the jump. Now it’s time to decide how and what you should teach. Before you begin, you’ll want to answer a couple of questions.

  • Will you use a text book or a hands-on (unit study) approach?
  • What type of scope and sequence will you use?
  • What science disciplines will you choose?

What’s a good definition of science disciplines?

Science disciplines are science topics with many sub-categories for study. For our purposes, we’ll talk about Earth Science, astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Earth Science is the study of geology. Astronomy is the study of matter in space. Biology is the study of all living things. Chemistry is the study of the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter. Physics is the study of matter and energy.

What’s the difference between using a text book and a unit study?

There is a big difference! A textbook has limited, structured reading material for each year with a minimal amount of experiments.  By contrast, a unit study uses a scope and sequence to combine books, field trip opportunities, and experiments. It’s a general guide to appropriate grade-level topics for each subject and grade level from K-12.

Understanding a Scope and Sequence

A scope and sequence can be used as a guide to determine if there are any facets of academics, such as science, you have not yet studied, or would like to study again. Or it can be used as a casis for a unit study. Having a scope and sequence will give you an idea of what should be covered. Lifetime homeschoolers aren’t usually concerned about what’s studied at each level as in traditional schools.

Does this mean I advocate teaching whatever, without rhyme or reason? No, I don’t recommend that at all. You can cover the material required, during the grade level of your choice, and at your child’s readiness level. One of the freedoms of homeschooling is flexibility!

Grade Level Guidelines for Teaching Science

Following are basic guidelines (or a brief scope and sequence) for each grade level:

  • Grades K-3- Teach the basic scientific method, stressing observations, collecting data and basic measurement. Reinforce studies with field trips and nature studies.
  • Grades 4-8- Scientific method: stressing methodology, collecting date, recording observations. Long-term project, such a science fair. Reinforce studies with field trips.
  • Grades 9-12- A complete understanding and application of the scientific method in all phases of experimentation. Stressing methodology, data collection, recording observations. Long-term project, such as a science fair. Labs are important.

Is there room for rabbit trails and non-traditional study topics?

Absolutely! We’re homeschoolers, after all! We love our rabbit trails. You can study things such as gardening, physics at an amusement park, animal husbandry, and more.

So we can see, Unit Studies are an ideal way to teach science in your homeschool. You have the flexibility and freedom to determine what your children learn when and still satisfy the scope and sequence. Have fun!

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Curriculum, Learning Styles, and Choices… Oh, My!

Curriculum learning stylesAs a new homeschool mom with an arsenal of degrees and certifications to show for my years of college and experience in the preschool and special education arena, I thought I was prepared. I handled a class of 25+ students in the sixth through ninth grades of Specific Learning Disabilities classes. Surely I could handle two children who were my own.

So I set off as many of you do, to recreate the school within the home, only to find it was a dismal failure. Well, not totally. We loved waking up each morning to a hot breakfast, and then I’d take my second cup of coffee and my two little ones to my room where we’d snuggle up and I’d read the Bible, a biography, and often we’d end up back there again to read after lunch. My oldest child had some learning struggles and he was not getting math. Simple facts were beyond him and asking him to memorize the multiplications facts in later years was like asking him to recite the Pythagorean Theorem.

That’s when I discovered that while I could read most things and remember them, I had hands-on learners who loved exploring and delving into things, getting their hands dirty, and loving it! So instead of just talking about rockets, we turned the refrigerator box into a space ship, complete with countdown to blast off music. My children wore bicycle helmets and pretended to be astronauts.

When our lot flooded, I would have been happy to read about the flood plain, and use words like – “cypress slough” in a sentence or learn about all the animals that like the flood water habitat using an illustrated children’s nature book, but, nooooo, not my children! They had to don boots and drag their brand-new red wagon my parents purchased for them around our flooded yard. They would play outdoors for hours. One day my son ran in all excited and asked, “Is it red-on-yellow kill a fellow, and red-on-black friend of Jack?”  Do you see a recurring theme here?ChristinaSpaceShip

These two were not happy to read about nature in a book, they had to experience it, and so when I happened upon Cathy Duffy at a homeschool conference, it finally made sense! Learning styles, yes – I remember learning about those in my special education classes and then it hit me! Our styles were completely different and not only those of my children, but mine as well.

That doesn’t mean it happened overnight, nor does it mean that I couldn’t encourage my strong visual child to learn things orally as well. It just meant that I wasn’t trying to fit a square peg into a round hole any longer. I finally was able to hit on some compromises that worked for our family and we happily became a unit study, Charlotte Mason, textbook, workbooks, biographies, fiction author, eclectic type of family. One size does not always fit all – and I’m a case in point.

Have you struggled finding curriculum that works for your family? Or did you finally have an, “Aha!” moment like I did?

 

Felice Gerwitz is the host of Vintage Homeschool Moms show that airs on Monday at noon eastern time. Her guest is Cathy Duffy.