How to Teach Homeschool Science When You Are Not a Physics or Chemistry ExpertNov 20th, 2011 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Homeschool Resources
How teaching science at home for less than chemistry or physics experts is possible.
Teaching science is a daunting task for lots of homeschooling parents. Let’s face it, science classes like physics or chemistry can be very technical and many parents worry they don’t have the knowledge base to teach these subjects properly. Relax!
First of all, kids (and that includes you, at some point in your past) are natural scientists. Don’t worry about your ability to teach complex subjects, stimulate or motivate them. Remember all those questions they ask? The wonderment your kids express about new discoveries? Kids are naturally curious about the world around them, even if they don’t think of their interest in the natural world as ‘science.’
Secondly, there are plenty of options out there for worried parents, allowing you to be as involved as you’d like without compromising the quality of a homeschool education. You don’t need to worry about how to teach homeschool science or math!
With self-instructional science curriculums, parents are free to focus on creating hands-on, real-life learning experiences for their children, which enhance the learning experience and reinforce the material they are studying. Here are the three key ways to teach (or have your children taught) science, depending on your comfort level with the material.
1. Learn It & Share It
You thought math, chemistry and physics would never be needed again, didn’t you? You should have paid more attention the first time around. One of the easiest ways to teach grade school science… or even high school science is to first understand it. Review your child’s course materials or class curriculum to determine the scope of the lessons. The web is an easy place to begin finding out just how good your knowledge really is. While this may prove an effective technique for one or two science courses, if your budding young PhD is engaged in a science-focused curriculum, you may find it difficult to amass sufficient knowledge to keep ahead of them.
2. Discover It Together or Let Them Go It Alone
Many parents choose to have their child take self-guided homeschool science courses either online, on video or in a textbook format. Homeschooling really runs the gamut of options from parents who manage the entire process to homeschool academies. Here’s a sample of a college-prep physics class that emphasizes hands-on experimentation by the student. If your student is a little younger, you can pick up science project kits at craft or teacher supply stores to get your child interested in science experiments. And if the curriculum starts to get beyond your knowledge, remember: teamwork gets it done! Science is a very community-driven practice; serving as your child’s lab partner and fellow student is both fun and helpful to them.
3. Dual Enrollment
Many states have a dual enrollment (also known as concurrent enrollment) option in which your child can attend traditional school classes for science courses, computer labs or foreign languages. You must check your local laws and with your school district. In Pennsylvania for example, state law doesn’t mandate that individual school districts allow dual enrollment; it is left to each district’s discretion.
Dual enrollment becomes a really good option for parents of science-oriented kids as they get older. As their curriculum progresses, they may be ready for more advanced coursework. In addition to dual-enrolling at high schools to take the burden off your shoulders, many homeschoolers choose to dual-enroll at local colleges, with college credits that can be transferred when they head off to college.
Teaching science properly requires you to make the subject interesting. Science isn’t about facts and numbers that need to be memorized; rather, it’s the collection of systems that make our world – and everything in it – function…and it’s fascinating! If you plan to take on the task of teaching your children science, remember:
• Start them out enthusiastically. This is science…this is going to be cool, and we’re all going to learn new stuff!
• Scientific experiments can go wrong…but there isn’t really a “wrong.” Everything that happens in the lab is a learning opportunity – that’s science, after all – and it’s a great way to exercise the logical parts of kid’s brains!
• Children can have misconceptions about science, so talking to them about their understanding of various topics on an ongoing basis is critical.
• It’s important to help them build connections between concepts. As you teach them various subjects, help them make connections by briefly revisiting the old information in the new context. For example, meteorology relates to geography and astronomy, which ties in physics.
• Be willing to supplement whatever curriculum they choose with other materials and even subjects! Biology is based on chemistry…chemistry is based on physical science…they are all interconnected and interrelated. Don’t be afraid to introduce concepts from other disciplines to help them as needed…science is about learning, but not necessarily learning in a linear fashion.
Science isn’t something to fear as a teacher, it’s an opportunity to be embraced. Forget the high school science classes you attended; homeschoolers don’t need to conform to that format…and they’ll be better off for it. Whatever option you choose, help your child make their science education informative, engaging and exciting.
Do you have any tips for homeschool parents who are nervous about teaching science and math?