Science is well-loved in our household. My science background in the areas of chemistry, astronomy, physics, and earth science is lacking – sometimes embarrassingly so. Since the time my oldest child was small he has been into science. My other children, while not so avid in their scientific interests, have also enjoyed science. My oldest child is now in middle school. While we still have many years ahead of us, I’ve discovered some things that have worked for us along the way.
Back when my oldest child started homeschool in Kindergarten, I asked him what he wanted to learn. Dinosaurs were his thing at the time so he naturally chose that topic. I was pretty much dinosaur ignorant. I didn’t even know the names of most of them. He had been watching dinosaur documentaries for awhile so I found some books, videos, and purchased a dinosaur dig kit for him to use. The little dinosaur study that I put together was his favorite part of school. It was my favorite part too. I also started Real Science for Kids Pre-Level Chemistry with him.
During the early years I wanted an emphasis to be on discovery and wonder. Tests, worksheets, and such things were not on my radar. I loved science as a kid, but didn’t enjoy it after I hit my first high school class that was all about learning terms and memorizing information. I wanted to keep things interesting, while still engaging and satisfying my child at the same time. The next year I purchased a microscope and slides without any planned out curriculum. It was something for him to explore. We had a book that explained how to stain and use the microscope that we did together. I started the Real Science-4-Kids Pre-Level Chemistryagain and included both my first grader and 4 year old. They both loved it. It did a great job introducing them to the topic with labs that were age appropriate and fun.
As we plunged ahead into elementary school I remembered the dinosaur study that I had done for my son. I found some books on the ocean and created an ocean study with books and videos. My son loved it. That led to many more studies on the human body, mammals, botany, food chains, biomes, ecology, and invertebrates. We dug deep into the topics without concern for tests and minimal paperwork. It was also a time for exploring and learning about nature. His natural interests in science led him to lots of independent study with documentaries, lectures, and books.
As my son neared middle school I realized my limitations on certain science topics. I attempted to put some physics resources together, but realized that I couldn’t do it much justice. I needed someone to guide me. As I explored the different options available, I decided to go with an easy high school textbook. My son’s high level of interest in science and his strong reading skills led me to think that it was the best choice for him. Some of the math was over my son’s head at the time, but he enjoyed learning new math concepts in the context of science. CPO Physical, Earth, and Space Sciencehas been a great resource. We started it towards the end of 4th grade and should finish it this year in 6th grade. It provided the information necessary for my child to get a good grounding in chemistry, physics, and geology. The teacher’s book has given me a way to challenge my son. I still avoid anything to do with memorization for tests. The end of the section questions are done orally and the end of chapter tests are done partially as an open book and the other part I just have him complete without memorizing and studying. I want to know how much he has absorbed the topic without getting into the memorization/testing cycle that, in my opinion, doesn’t aid learning.
We have many years ahead of us to dig deeper into science. As we settle into textbooks we expect to cover more high school science during the middle school years. In high school I plan to use easy college textbooks. I’m not yet sure how I will handle meeting my child’s intense desire to learn science, but self-education is a must. Already I’ve encountered situations where my son has had to explain a concept to me that I did not know. Mentors will also be crucial as he grows. I have my eye on these textbooks for the future. We plan to start the first one about mid-way through this school year and double up on some of them during the high school years.
Miller-Levine Biology iPad edition
Tarbuck Earth Science
Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics
Tro’s Chemistry: A Molecular Approach
Living in the Environment by Miller
Zoology by Miller
Chemistry: The Central Science by Brown
The Cosmos by Pasachoff
Physics by Resnick, Halliday, and Krane Vol 1 and 2
If anyone knows how to obtain teacher editions for any of the textbooks that I’ve listed, I’m all ears!