Science is one subject that I feel that I haven't figured it all out, even though we have been learning science since the beginning of our homeschool journey. In many ways, our approach has been somewhat haphazard. We tend not to follow any specific curriculum (although I have tried to do so several times in the past), and just tie the experiments with whatever topic Tiger is interested in at the moment. To those who are left-brain orientated, such 'jumping around' can be very unsettling.
Nowadays our approach to maths looks, from the outside, to be skipping around as well since we no longer follow any specific curriculum. However, I am more confident about applying the same approach to maths because Tiger has had a few years of covering the ground work (number sense, basic operations, etc), so to speak, but I don't feel that I have any means to measure what the ground work is in science.
"Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire it has perhaps no educative value."
-- Charlotte Mason
We started off Year One following the Classical approach. The recommendations from The Well Trained Mind sounded very logical to me: start with Life Science, followed by Earth Science, then Chemistry, and last comes Physics. As the Classical approach started with Life Science, I was able to incorporate Nature Study at the same time.
The one year of following the general scope of Life Science was an interesting learning process for me. We tried several science curricula but could not find a good match. We would start off very enthusiastically only to find, after a few weeks, that one of the following scenarios would inevitably happen:
- the curriculum that started off with great promise of rigour became underwhelming one-third of the way;
- required too much writing that Tiger wasn't ready for;
- the experiments leaned too much towards entertainment or craft rather than science;
- too much theory;
- too confusing;
- too much spoon-feeding;
- unnecessarily complicated experiments
Despite the unsatisfactory start, we still bumbled along using various sources of hands-on experiments that were relevant to the topics that Tiger was learning, as well as keeping up with regular nature study. At the same time, I began to realise that the compartmentalisation of science as suggested by WTM is counter-intuitive, and that science happens in real life in a myriad of fascinating, interrelated ways. I also began to wonder whether there really exists a specific sequence to the learning of science.
I got my answer through observing how easily Tiger understood and completed the experiments at the science classes in the co-op last year. That series of science classes were all physics topics which, according to WTM's schedue, we were nowhere close to covering in Year Two. The ease at which Tiger grasped the lessons taught at those classes reassured me that learning science in the elementary years has much to do with:
- using common sense
- observing and participating in real life
- being open to new and/or unconventional ideas
- maintaining a sense of wonder and curiosity about a great many different topics
- being interested to learn and understand
- avoiding dogma
To get an idea of how science is learned by other homeschooling families, please visit the other contributors to this series:
- Chareen feels that Science in the Junior Years is about exploring the world around you.
- Lucinda shares her tips on How to Make Sure Science Gets Done When You're Not Using A Curriculum.
- Julie shares her expertise on Creating Your Own Science Curriculum.
- Savannah offers a guest post by Claire who teaches science without a formal curriculum in Science with My Scalliwags.
- Bernadette shows how she tackles science shoes off and hands on in Scientifically Speaking.
- Nicole addresses the issue of Science: The Epic Failure that Wasn't by sharing her realisation that science is so much more than a curriculum.
- Erin shares how her family kindles an interest in scientific matters and how they keep that interest alive in Kindling & Fanning Scientific Minds.
This post is linked up to:
- Hip Homeschool Hop - 5/28/13
- Hearts for Home Blog Hop #19
- Collage Friday - Joy and Loss
- TGIF Linky Party #78
- Creative Learning #16
- Weekly Wrap-Up: The First Week of Summer Break 2013
- Share it Saturday - Awesome Science
- Sunday Showcase - 6/1/13
- Science Sunday: It's no kids week!
- Homeschool Science Share & Tell - May 2013 edition