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You don’t need a curriculum to teach science.
Yes, you read that right: you really don’t need a curriculum to teach science! And while I’m not a science teacher per se, I have homeschooled for more than a few years, and have friends who can claim the status of trained “professional science teacher” on a résumé.
But for those of you who may not fall into the “professional” camp, or who may not even favor the subject at all (yet), here are some tools for teaching science in your own home, without a curriculum.
Tools for Teaching Homeschool Science
One of the problems I experienced with science while growing up, and also in my early years of teaching the subject, was a poor choice of curriculum. It seemed to me that science texts, for whatever reason, were often dry treatises on topics that I had neither an understanding of nor a vision as to how they connected with “real life.” Additionally, as a teacher, I had no confidence in the subject matter either, and feared that lack would result in the ruination of my children’s academic training and future.
Fortunately, I found a friend or two along the way who genuinely knew and loved the sciences, and encouraged me in my own efforts. Over the course of this journey I learned a few things:
- Unless your child is headed for a career in science, “gaps” are not an issue.
- In the early years, science should be connected with delightful discoveries and practical life lessons.
- Focusing on growing a curious, questioning approach to learning in general will go far towards helping your child in later science learning.
So the question becomes: how do I do all that?
- The first tool you may want to use is the Typical Course of Study that WorldBook (yes, the makers of those big ol’ sets of encyclopedias that many of us might still have on a shelf!) has crafted together.
Why? WorldBook has been around for many years, and while they might not corner the market on knowledge, they do have a great handle on age-appropriate presentations of many topics. (Actually, they offer scope-and-sequences for grades 1-12 on a bunch of subjects on their website. It’s a very useful resource.) You can use this to outline a general course of study for your child for a year, or print it out and use it as a “checklist” as studies are completed, or keep it handy as you come across materials and find activities as you pursue delight-directed learning. It can become a way to maintain an overview of your child’s studies year by year, and a source for introducing different aspects of science when you’re not quite up to speed on what to study…(speaking from experience).
- Another tool you may want to use is your local library’s Dewey Decimal System.
Why? Although first proposed in 1876, this classification system is still in use in libraries around the world today. Knowing which ones are the science-related sections is a great way to pop in and out of a library and help your children dig up some educational and interesting “finds”. (Early in my homeschooling career I was impressed to watch two friends of mine teach science to all their children – 9 in all – solely using library resources. One of them even grew up to pursue his PhD in biology!) The main classifications you may find useful are as follows:
- 100 – Computer science, information & general works
- 500 – Science
- 600 – Technology
- 900 – History & geography – Look for biographies of famous scientists and inventors here.
And finally, you can find a myriad of supplies, kits, and other resources, limited only by your own imagination and finances, at some of these companies:
- Amazon has a dizzying array of science kits and collections. Looking through this collection* is a fun way of exploring options and finding new interests both for you and your student!
- Pitsco Education supplies lab equipment and products to traditional schools, too, but they are also homeschool-friendly. I’ve used both their solar cars and kite kit with my daughter’s homeschool Science Club.
- Homeschool Planet has some wonderful deals on Discovery Video Streaming*, Supercharged Science*, National Science Foundation streaming*, and more!
As you continue to explore and experiment on your own, your own excitement about science will grow and grow. And as you gain personal experience with the subject, you’ll find that “Yes, Virginia, it IS possible to teach science without a curriculum!”
Best of all, you’ll be DOING it!
Find additional resources, tools and encouragement at How To Teach Homeschool Science Out-of-the-Box.
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- Top 10 Free (or Mostly) Homeschool Productivity Apps - October 18, 2016