The Heart of Science in the Elementary Years: The Homeschool Science Advantage

The Heart of Science in the Elementary Years: The Homeschool Science Advantage

Is there such a thing as a homeschool science advantage? Learn why homeschooling can give kids an edge when it comes to all things science-related.

In a 1996 interview in Psychology Today, Carl Sagan famously said, “Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.”

“Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.” – Carl Sagan

Sagan goes on to explain that his own enthusiasm and wonder remained intact simply because “[his] parents, who knew nothing about science, encouraged it.”

That’s right. One of the greatest minds of our time became who he was because his parents simply encouraged his natural sense of scientific wonder. It wasn’t because he attended the best schools, with the best teachers and the best technology. It was because his parents believed in keeping the heart of science alive for their child. If that’s not a beacon of hope for homeschooling parents, I don’t know what is.

What Is the Homeschool Science Advantage?

The truth is, homeschoolers have a big advantage when it comes to science, especially in those formative elementary years. These “wonder years” are crucial to securing a love of learning, and a sense of curiosity that will last a lifetime. These years set the tone for all the learning to come, and can either support or discourage a child’s natural curiosity.

Here are four reasons why homeschoolers have the upper hand when it comes to science education.

Reason 1: Homeschoolers Have the Gift of Time

One of the biggest advantages homeschoolers have when it comes to elementary science education is that they can take their time. Their investigations of science aren’t limited to a structured forty-five-minute session once or twice a week. They aren’t bogged down by hours of homework after a long school day, either. They have time to tinker, time to experiment, time to play.

Unstructured playtime is essential, especially when raising out-of-the-box thinkers and problem-solvers. Though traditionally schooled children may be able to carve out a little time between homework and sleep, it’s clear that homeschoolers have more freedom and flexibility in their day.

Reason 2: Homeschool Classroom Are Limitless

Homeschool science isn’t restricted to a table in a classroom, as it often is for their traditionally-schooled peers. It can happen anywhere. Science spills in all around them—in the kitchen, on their nature walk, in the backyard, on field trips, at their co-op class. It can be carefully planned or delightfully impromptu. And it can look very different from year to year.

A homeschooler may experience science class at a national park one week and at an aerospace museum the next. They might make robots with their co-op class in someone’s backyard on a Tuesday, then spend Thursday watching spiders building webs by the local pond. Science class can be a bucket of LEGO parts dumped out on the living room floor, or a messy attempt to make their own brownies in the family kitchen. Learning has no boundaries, and homeschoolers have the luxury of experiencing this first-hand on a regular basis. It’s the homeschool science advantage at work.

Reason 3: Homeschoolers Are Free to Follow Their Curiosity

Imagine how many hours the average child spends daydreaming, doodling, and tinkering in those elementary years. How many of us scribbled elaborate ideas for a go-cart or space suit on our desk during a less-than-thrilling lesson in school? Or imagined great adventures, amazing discoveries, and intriguing experiments while staring at a blackboard? Children have such complex and exciting inner worlds, especially in the elementary years.

A homeschooled child has the incredible advantage of being able to indulge in their curiosity, rather than constantly being steered away from it. Parents have the freedom of following their child’s interests and curiosities, even planning their homeschool year around them. They can ebb and flow through topics that catch their child’s attention, drop what isn’t clicking at the moment, and go deep when their child is ready. A child captivated by airplanes and flight can spend their year learning all about it. A budding paleontologist can dig and collect and watch documentary after documentary. This is one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling there is!

Reason 4: Homeschoolers Learn How to Learn

Finally, homeschoolers have the advantage because they learn how to learn. Many times, a homeschooled child’s questions and curiosities may lead to a library visit to gather books, a Google search for high-quality websites with more information, a field trip, a phone call, the creation of a documentary watch-list, or a visit with an expert. They learn how to find answers, where to access information, and (most importantly) that curiosity is a gift. They begin to understand that they can learn about anything they want, and go as deep as they want, with the right resources. This revelation stays with them their whole life long.

The Homeschool Science Advantage Keeps Science Intact

Of course, traditionally-schooled children can access many of these benefits too, if they have the support and encouragement of the right adults in their life. But there’s no doubt that homeschoolers have many built-in advantages that help keep the spirit of wonder alive. With more time to explore and play, a variety of learning environments and materials at their disposal, freedom, and encouragement to learn about their interests, and exposure to the skills to self-educate, they can, indeed, keep the heart of science intact.

Kristina Garner

About the author

Kristina Garner is an artist, a writer, and a homeschooling mom to her two young daughters. She writes regularly on her blog Blossom and Root about nature-based homeschooling with a focus on STEAM and the arts. She also enjoys traveling, making a fantastic mess with paint, exploring the beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains, rock climbing, and yoga.

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We absolutely love nature study in our home, however as soon as the cold weather hits it seems to get a lot harder to keep it up. The kids (OK, usually I) don’t love being out in the fierce cold for too long.  It also seems like there is just nothing to study in the winter because so much of it goes away in the colder months of the year. Nature does still live on through the winter, though! You just have to get a little more creative in how you look at it. Today I want to share with you 10 ways to study nature in the winter so you can stay motivated through the coldest months.

Karyn Tripp

Pumpkins, cooler weather, crunchy leaves…Autumn is such a fun and exciting time of the year. Now that the heat of Summer has subsided and you’re settling into a normal, daily homeschool routine, it’s the perfect time to add in something new. Hopefully this list of Autumn STEM activities will get you and your family excited!

Bethany Lake

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