I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to answer with the first thing that comes to your mind.
What’s your least favorite subject to teach in your homeschool?
Did you answer science?
If so, I’m not surprised.
In fact, many parents homeschooling their children go so far as admitting that they actually hate science.
A personal friend of mine recently admitted to me that she’d “rather eat dirt” than have anything to do with high school chemistry or physics.
Because I get such joy from learning (and teaching) science, I want to help others enjoy it too. In this post, I’ll share ways to teach science in your homeschool, even if you hate science.
You Don’t Really Hate Science
If you really stop to think about it, I believe you’ll find that you don’t really hate science. I don’t think anyone does.
Because when you really stop to consider it, you recognize that science is part of everything.
The beach? Science.
The change of seasons? Science.
I literally could go on and on without naming a single thing that isn’t related to science.
So what is it that you dislike about science?
Is it the mess?
The time that science experiments take?
The gross factor?
The stress that comes with searching for the necessary science supplies?
Perhaps you had a bad experience in your own science class, and maybe you don’t feel up to the challenge of teaching your own child science. I hope to address each of these points below.
But as we begin, if I may be so bold, I want to encourage you to be mindful of the way you speak about science in front of your kids. If they often hear you complain about how hard science is, or how much you hate it, they may internalize your attitude about the subject. This will only make teaching science even more difficult in the long run.
If we want our kids to become voracious readers, we don’t bemoan how much we hate reading.
If we know our children need to learn algebra, we are wise not to badmouth the subject in their presence or complain about its uselessness.
In a similar way, since we know that our kids need at least a cursory knowledge of science as part of their education, we should be careful with our thoughts and attitudes about the topic.
Now, I’ll get off my soapbox and get on to those homeschool science tips.
Taming the Science Mess
Quite possibly the number one objection homeschool parents have to teaching homeschool science is the mess it involves.
Whether your student is exploring chemistry by making elephant toothpaste, constructing a balsa wood bridge, experimenting with circuits, or dissecting an owl pellet, the fact is that they may make a mess.
Rather than letting the mess keep your kids from the benefits of hands-on learning, find a way to contain the mess.
Designate a spot in your home that your kids are allowed to do their science experiments. Ideally, the location will be somewhere out of the way where you don’t mind some spills. This could be in a corner of your kitchen, in the utility room or basement, or somewhere similar. Instruct your kids to limit their experimentation to this spot, rather than allowing them to have their projects strewn all over the house.
If science stays confined to one location, it’s a lot easier to deal with.
Start a Science Supply Stash and Keep it Stocked
How frustrating is it when your kid sits down to do a science experiment and you find that you don’t have the necessary supplies?
I get it. We’ve all been there. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
The solution? A science stash.
I learned early on that the best way to make sure science lessons happened consistently was to spend time early in the year planning and gathering supplies.
Most science curriculum comes with a list of materials that will be needed for hands-on experiments and activities over the course of the year. Make a habit of looking at the list before the school year starts. Gather the necessary supplies ahead of time and put them in a designated spot. In my house, this is known as the science stash. Throughout the year when a student gets to a lab assignment in the curriculum, he or she can go to the science stash to find the required supplies. No more frantic trips to the grocery store!
You may find that as your science stash grows through the years, it is harder to keep organized. I’m no Pinterest mom by any means, but I’ve found a solution that works to keep my very large science stash organized.
I group like supplies and materials in a small, stackable, clear plastic box. Then I label the contents on the outside of the box with a marker. Then, when it’s time to find iron filings, a packet of yeast, or an alligator clip, I simply scan my science stash boxes for the desired items.
This simple hack has made a huge difference in our homeschool, and has made science experiments happen much more consistently through the years!
Ditch the Dry, Boring Textbooks
If you (or your kids) have a hard time getting through science lessons because the curriculum you’re using is dry or boring, it’s ok to make a change.
There is no shortage of fantastic science curricula available, so don’t feel chained to a program that isn’t working for your kid’s learning style.
Those of us who love science didn’t come to enjoy it by reading textbooks. More than likely, we fell in love with the subject when we explored science with hands-on exploration.
These days, it’s possible to order kits through the mail that arrive with everything your kid needs to explore science in meaningful, hands-on ways.
There are also incredible content creators on platforms such as YouTube or TikTok that provide bite-sized science instruction and engaging activities that can be done from home.
Disgusted by Dissections? Don’t Do Them!
Once students approach high school, they (or their parents) may start dreading the dissections that come with high school biology.
Guess what? If you (or your kids) don’t want to do dissections, you don’t have to!
There are some fantastic alternatives to traditional dissections, including virtual dissections, paper dissection models, online simulations, and more.
Find the “Hidden” Science in Other Subjects
Since there’s science in everything, often you can find a way to incorporate a science lesson while you’re studying a different subject.
One of my favorite examples of how a lesson on history, geography, literature, and science can be combined is The Year Without a Summer.
In 1815, Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupted, spewing gas and particulates into the atmosphere. Many of the fine particulates remained in the atmosphere for months, blocking the sun’s rays from warming the planet. Temperatures plummeted so much that 1816 was called “The Year without a Summer.” Between the cold temperatures and crazy weather, crops were lost and people spent time indoors when they could. It was during the Year without a Summer that Mary Shelly, while trapped indoors with her husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and poet Lord Byron, was inspired to write Frankenstein.
Isn’t that cool? That’s just one of many examples of how to sneak homeschool science into other topics your kids might be studying.
Make Science Relevant
We are all born curious. If you’ve ever spent any time around toddlers, you know that their most popular word (other than “no”) is “why?” Some studies have shown that a 4-year-old asks between 200 and 300 questions a day. As a parent, it can be exhausting to keep up with their curiosity.
But something seems to happen as kids age. They no longer seem as eager to explore the “why” behind the things they encounter in everyday life.
We’ve all had our kids complain that it’s pointless to learn something since they’ll never use it in real life. So why not meet them where they’re at, and use their current interests to engage their curiosity again?
Since there’s science in everything, help them find the science in whatever they are most interested in.
Do they like to cook? Have them discover the science in cooking. The daughter of a friend of mine spent the whole year exploring the chemistry of cooking. Not only did she get some solid science in, but she also kept her family well-fed.
Do they like to spend time in nature? Give them a field guide or notebook and let them start a nature journal. They can use apps like Google Lens to identify insects, animal tracks, plants, or birds they see while exploring.
Are they an automobile fanatic? What a great opportunity to explore the physics of speed, aerodynamics, and even chemistry!
If they have a favorite animal, they can learn all about the animal’s life cycle and habitat.
We are all much more likely to retain what we’re learning when we have a vested interest in the subject. Who knows? Their exploration may even lead to their future career!
Finally, if you don’t want to teach science–either due to lack of time, interest, or ability–outsource it!
There are many ways this could be done.
From their earliest years in our homeschool, my sons took advantage of science classes offered through local homeschool co-ops. Co-ops are an especially great option for high school homeschool science, as families can pool their resources for lab equipment and supplies. The weekly classes ensured that science lessons were getting done each week, and learning is always more fun in a group!
Now more than ever there are many online options for science classes. Available options run the gamut from short, 6-week classes for younger learners geared to a particular topic to year-long classes through online homeschool academies.
We all have gifts and passions, and you don’t have to feel guilty if teaching science isn’t your forte!
There’s great beauty in science, whether we are studying biology, chemistry, or physics. Even though I’ve been learning and teaching science for the majority of my life, I still find new things to discover nearly every day. I hope you are encouraged to put these tips into practice and explore the wonder that science has to offer with your children.