When to Teach Science
There’s confusion among homeschoolers about when to teach science. Some Charlotte Mason educators avoid teaching science in the early elementary years. Often, they consider nature study enough. Perhaps part of it is they are uninterested in science—the outcome of their own education. After all, the way science is presented in the school system renders it dull and dry as bones, imparting only surface level information to be memorized for a test (then quickly forgotten).
However, the early years are the ideal time to introduce the wonders of science, as children are naturally curious and want to understand the whys and hows of everything—especially science.
A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING
With a deeper understanding of science, nature study becomes even more fascinating because children comprehend what’s happening and what they’re seeing.
If they’ve studied Botany, spotting a rose hip on the tip of a bush reminds them it was once a flower, and after pollination, the ovary swelled into a container for seeds. If they’ve studied Zoology, they’ll notice the small signs that reveal the birds are nesting or preparing for migration. With knowledge of Astronomy in place, children can explore the night sky and explain the difference between the stars and planets.
Indeed, the early years—when a child’s curiosity is at its height—is the perfect time to unfold the intricate and fascinating ways God created the earth and all its creatures.
As a young child, I was blessed with a great deal of freedom to roam about. I spent most of my summer in the woods near our home, finding the burrow of a tarantula the size of my face, climbing up trees to see the eggs in a nest, and searching for hours to find the source of a creek.
I got lost a lot but was never worried. My father was a geologist and took my family to the land he’d leased to drill oil wells. I was fascinated by the derrick that seemed to reach the heavens, with its giant screw that excavated miles and miles of dirt and rock to tap into an ocean of oil deep under the earth.
I stood in awe, wishing someone would explain exactly how it all worked. I wanted to truly understand the science of it all, not simply see and wonder. Certainly, the dumbed-down school textbooks would never teach science as fully and completely as I needed to know it.
These early experiences with science and nature were the impetus for my Charlotte Mason styled science curriculum, published by Apologia. I started writing my first science book when my children wanted to learn Astronomy but there was nothing that taught it in the detail I knew they needed to feel satisfied and confident in their knowledge of science.
Furthermore, I wanted science to build my children’s faith—not destroy it.
The Third International Math and Science Study found that American school children were so far behind other countries in science because the curriculum was a mile wide and an inch deep. Teachers were trying to cover too many topics and fields in one calendar year. Children were exposed to surface level science, and the focus was on the unit test score, not the knowledge or understanding of science.
A LOVE FOR SCIENCE
Rather than focus on our children memorizing data and vocabulary, our goal should be to engage their innate curiosity, to bring science to life, to grow a love for learning as they explore the outdoor world while keeping a nature notebook to capture these precious moments in time.
Learning science should be elevated above scoring well on a test and focus instead on discovering the wonders of God’s creation. This type of education develops a genuine and authentic love for learning that will last a lifetime.
But how do we, as homeschoolers, develop in our children this love for learning? How do we make science a joy filled exploration?
By choosing materials that excite and enrich as they convey ideas.
A FAMILY ADVENTURE
My Young Explorer Series was developed with this type of learning in mind and is based on Charlotte Mason’s superior principles of education. Each book is written to the child in an engaging style and reinforces learning through narration and notebooking. The lessons are filled with activities and projects that make science even more memorable. And they are designed for families to do together.
Most importantly, they reinforce the truth of Our Creator God.
Siblings studying botany find nature walks much more meaningful as brothers and sisters excitedly point out the signs of life that go unnoticed to the average eye. As families learn about insects, the age old “Come look at this bug!” becomes a delightful moment as they are able to identify the order based on the wing shape. Even messy, fizzy chemistry experiments turn into family adventures filled with cherished memories of learning together.
As you think about and plan for your elementary science studies, remember the words of Charlotte Mason,
It cannot be too often said that information is not education. The question is not––how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?
Give your child the gift of science by unleashing the joy of discovery for the sake of knowing and for the love of learning.
To learn even more about giving your children a Charlotte Mason education read here.