I really hate teaching science; it’s the subject I struggle teaching most. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word, but I’m just not a science person, with the possible caveat of Creation Science. I’ve been homeschooling for 8 years, and have taught every grade from birth through this being our first year in high school. Science is my downfall. Here are a few things I’ve tried, and the plan for this year.
It’s much easier to teach any given subject if you know it well and are confident in that knowledge. That should be obvious. It’s why many moms feel like they “can’t” homeschool or they aren’t “smart enough” to homeschool; they simply aren’t comfortable enough in their knowledge to think themselves capable of teaching their own kids. Of course, we know that there are many options for this sort of situation, especially subject specific, but you see my point.
I hate teaching science partly because I’m just not any good at science. I thought I did a great job of teaching plants to my oldest son in elementary school. My husband was highly disappointed with my lack of thorough teaching. I had taught him all I knew. Turns out that I have what my husband thinks is probably a third grade plant science education, and there is much more. Who knew! (And, who cares???)
You see my trouble? I hate teaching science. Science just isn’t my thing, and I really don’t care that it’s not my thing. Plants grow, and so do kids, and there are stars, and sometimes it rains. Nothing I can do about it. Don’t care!!
You must be kidding. I hate teaching science, don’t have enough of a grasp of it myself to get through junior high, and you want me to put together my own science experiments with my kids? I don’t care how easy it is or how many guides are out there. I hate teaching science.
I’m more of the sort that says, “Okay, so, let’s pretend we did this experiment. What do you think would happen?” And yes, turns out that question is part of the scientific method. Yay. Good for me, I did something right. But I leave out the whole “check your hypothesis” step because, well frankly, I just don’t care.
But, that’s not fair to my kids – or acceptable to their education. And I know it.
What We’ve Tried
We tried using Considering God’s Creation. Great looking little curriculum. If you’re science-y, if you love experiments, if you’re all about some teaching science in a teacher intensive manner, please have a look at this curriculum. I really think – honestly, I do – that it’s a great curriculum. It would’ve worked for my kids, any of them so far in fact. But, I just can’t do it because I hate teaching science. I don’t want to take the prep time necessary to get these things done. I don’t know how they are supposed to turn out, mess up ingredients with sub-quality products and substitutions that don’t make sense (apparently), and then don’t even realize when the project goes completely awry. And, guess what? I don’t care!
We used some unit studies from Media Angels. Know what? I loved these. Know why? Creation science. It’s great. I love it. I can do life science, for the most part. (Please don’t make me draw cells. I really don’t know, or care, what a mitochondria is. I’m not even sure if that word is singular or plural.) We haven’t used these in their full capacity, stretching it out to truly become a unit study including language arts and everything. But, we’ve used 2 of the 4 books (the third is on loan and I really still want the fourth!) and I love how thorough they are and it all leads back to Christ. Quite honestly, we did plenty of artsy-fartsy stuff, and not so many experiments. It’s probably why I love it so much; it just doesn’t feel like teaching science. Exactly what I need!
We are now using the Christian Kids Explore series with the middle boys. They’re getting to the point of aging out of this, but I love it because the lessons are short (which the boys love) and I can look ahead to a simple experiment later in the week. I have time to plan, which is a big deal for me, and it isn’t designed to read the material and do the experiment on the same day. The experiments are easy, with products I almost always already have on hand or can obtain easily. Plus, we can always expound on an interesting subject via the library. Know what else? Usually I can tell the boys what we’re doing and how to do it, and when it gets to be actual experiment time I can let them do it themselves. Oops. Mom fails at teaching science!
So. What to do about teaching science, especially now that I have a high schooler?
Well, a while back, a friend offered her collection of Switched On Schoolhouse for free or cheap, or at least at a bargain. Here in a couple of weeks we will get tax return, and I’m hoping to reconnect with her and obtain those. It will help us with several subjects, but my focus will be on the teaching science portion. (Also it will be great for Bible, possibly math, and electives!) In fact, there’s a good chance that I’ll try to obtain some of the lower level science courses from SOS as well. It’s just independent enough for me to love it.
We have a few things coming through with the Schoolhouse Review Crew through TOS this year. In fact, I have at least two science programs we are reviewing right now. One of those is an online program for the younger kids, and one is an experiments DVD – yes you heard that right! – for the middle school aged group. (Can you say, “imagine we did this…” one more time, please??) This will certainly help me in teaching science in the next year, and prayerfully for several years to come.
I’m still sticking with the CKE for a while as well. Part of that is discipline on my side, part of it is just my tendencies to want to check things off the list and this is part of what we’re doing with Illuminations this year. If we get hold of some SOS like I would love to do, then CKE will serve as a supplement to that.
My intentions on teaching science include more real life learning such as growing a garden, letting the boys work on cars, and getting them all into the kitchen more often. (Can you say plant life science, physical science, and chemistry? I thought you could.) Our character organization for boys (formerly Boy Scouts, but we are switching to Trail Life USA after the decisions last year) should cover earth and weather sciences pretty well. That leaves anatomy, and Media Angels has a book for that. It’s the only one I’m missing, in fact.
What do you use for science? Especially if you are a non-sciencey, non-experimental, non-interested homeschooling mom like me, I’d love to hear what worked for you! Have you used any of the programs I’m planning on, and did they or did they not work for you?
I SO wish there was a co-op near here that worked like the co-op we loved in Austin, where a homeschool dad who worked in science took the kids once a week (or was it every other week?) and did some great experiments. PhysicsQuest looks like so much fun, but to be honest, I’m just not going to do it on my own. This is one area where we’ve really relied on scouting, and I can’t wait to get back – or let the guys get back – to doing those things again!
Please share what you do in a comment or a link to a blog post. I’ll look forward to reviewing more new science curricula with you this year, but this is definitely an area where I need all the help I can get. Thanks, beautiful friends! Be blessed!