Science is one of those subjects that can scare many a homeschool mom.
So many moms say:
- I can't homeschool high school because I can't do high school science.
- I can't homeschool because I can't give my kids the full science education they need.
- I can't do science because I hate science.
- I stink at science.
- I never got it.
- My science teacher was an imbecile and I still haven't recovered.
Whatever the reasoning behind it is, I'm here to say, there's another way. You CAN do science, and do it well, in homeschool.
You can teach science the right way and not let's-make-a-baking-soda-volcano-and-call-it-good type science.
I'm a do-it-yourself type of gal. If I could make, grow, create, build everything I use, I totally would. I have a secret fantasy to live out in the middle of nowhere on a huge ranch/farm and just live off what we produce and make with our own hands.
My husband, being Mr. Indoorsy, would like to stay close to civilization.
As as DIY-er, I love to cobble together my own homeschool curriculum and I love to plan and pull together resources.
In my 6 years of homeschooling, I've realized that my time is better spent NOT doing that.
Not sapping my energy trying to put together the best resources I can find (and not spending tons of money) and not pouring all my limited energy into building a curriculum.
So, what curriculum would I use?
When I first decided to homeschool, I searched for weeks for THE BEST science curriculum for my children. I found Real Science-4-Kids and started teaching my kiddos Chemistry.
Then, the next year, I got hit by the "I need to do more more more" bug, and thought, this needs to be harder (for me) for it to be effective.
Can I get a collective eye roll?
Sometime last year I slapped my own face and rolled my eyes so far back I fell asleep for a week.
I've been on the hunt for science goodness for my kids ever since.
Something that could satisfy my desire for a real, thorough, and solid education. Something that wouldn't be one more thing to do that never got done because I was overwhelmed, and wouldn't be something that I'd never do because I'd forget to grab the stinking supplies.... again.
I happened again on Real Science-4-Kids. This time, their grade level curriculum instead of by individual subject.
I received this for free in exchange for my honest review and compensated for my time, not my opinion.
I have 5th, 3rd, 2nd, and PreK/K graders. My 5th grader is behind in science (remember that cobbling that lead to burnout, which led to not doing it consistently?) so I decided to go with the 3rd grade level to meet in the middle. Pull my 2nd grader up, meet my 3rd grader, and help my 5th grader to be confident while he improves.
I love RS4K because it gives you a taste of each science subject. Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Earth, and Astronomy for a total of 22 lessons.
My kids, who keep telling me they don't like science, enjoy reading the textbook, looking at the pictures, and then seeing for themselves with their own experiments.
That's my favorite bit.
What they read in the student textbook is then proven to them through a simple, doable, no random expensive materials required, experiments.
Little Miss (3rd grader), was all about learning why oil and water don't mix and then why when you add soap they do. In fact, I loved learning about it.
The way they show the molecules in the book made it visually easy for the kids to see the similarities, differences, and connections within the lesson. They could see why water and sugar mix and why water and oil do not just by looking at the picture.
Captain (the 5th grader) is not groaning when I say it's time for science. He's especially excited to do the experiments.
I call that a major win.
We received 3 books. Student Textbook, Teacher's Manual, and the Laboratory Notebook. Not one of these books are unnecessary. They each play an important part.
The Student Textbook has all the lessons, written out easily for the kids to understand, but not dumbed down.
We've read these lessons together, and I've had them read them with each other (while I'm taking care of the baby).
We've also read some of the chapters during morning time as review and extra time to sneak science into our school days.
The Laboratory Notebook has all the pre-lab questions to think about, and answer, the graphs, charts, and notes sections for the experiments, and then follow up questions after the lab is over to summarize what you've learned, compare your hypothesis with the results, and wrap it up nicely with an explanation as to what happened and why back in the Teacher's Manual.
The Teacher's Manual tells you what materials are needed for each lesson, how to conduct the lesson, what questions to ask, in what order, etc. You don't have to think.
If you're running behind on prep time, you know you can just open it up and go without having to teach yourself first.
The hallmarks of a good curriculum are:
•my kids understand it
•my kids want to do it
•my kids are learning and retaining at each lesson
•it's easy for me to do, even if I am sick, tired, stressed, or busy
•I enjoy it
I'm sure there's some other standards, but these cover the most basic of my standards and benchmarks.
Real Science-4-Kids meets them all.
Teaching science when life is chaotic
After having had 6 babies, 3 while I homeschooling , and having HG each time, being able to give my children a quality education when I'm laid out on the couch, not having been able to keep down food or water in 24+ hours, exhausted, worn out, and stressed is vital.
I can't pile on guilt on top of all those other things!
I may be done with having children, but understanding days don't always work out, and the fact that life happens, no matter what you plan-- I always want to have in place something that is going to work for my family no matter the circumstance.
I don't mean to sound so maudlin, but having a wonderful science curriculum takes away stress and worry from my shoulders. I can cross this worry off my list when I'm laying there at night, worrying.
Worrying I'm missing something, worrying I'm not doing enough, worrying my kids will turn into horrible people or with no prospect at happiness and success and intelligence.
Because of course, when we're worrying, we're never rational.
I can say to myself, "Rochelle, but you're doing science, they're doing it, they're getting it, they may not be science geniuses, but gosh dang it, they're smart and they're not going to start killing kittens because you homeschooled them."
It's real, solid, quality science
I don't want to teach my kids fluff. I want them to know what's what and really grasp and appreciate science for all that it's given our society and its possibilities.
My dream is for each of my children to fall in love with science, but since I can't control them (darn it), I'm going to settle for having a good understanding of it.
This is real science, not watered-down fluff. My kids are learning real science terms, real concepts, and referring to the things they're learning as though they were already scientists.
I'd encourage you to read this fantastic interview of Dr Keller (the author) and how this curriculum is different. This interview was a major reason why I fell in love with RS4K.
If you're looking for a science curriculum to get you headed in the right direction, to be your spine, then I highly highly recommend RS4K. Each year builds on each other, from Kindergarten all the way up to their newest release, grade 7.
If you're the unit study type, you can totally build off of the units within the text to suit your needs, and you know you'll have a solid foundation to turn to. If you wish, you can always use their Focus series to really explore the separate concentrations.
If you're the let's try lots of curricula type (raising my hand), then definitely use RS4K. I have several science curriculum for this school year. I have two that we will use as supplements, as specific units, but this one, is our main spine, our main constant.
When you aren't the biggest fan of science
Now, I can say this-- I love specific science concentrations. I love love biology and astronomy. I can appreciate chemistry for its coolness factor (but I sure hate those equations). I appreciate the other sciences, but I don't love to study them.
At least, I didn't.
The fact that RS4K has all the major concentrations of science is fantastic. I loathe physics and earth science is meh. Rocks? Yawn fest. I'd much rather learn about the body, elements, and the planets.
We've just started the physics section of the 3rd grade RS4K's text and I've gotta be honest, it's not bad at all! I've re-learned some things and am enjoying myself.
I love that it's set for me. I don't have to plan it, think about it, research it, none of that. I love that I can make sure my least favorite subjects are being taught well and my feelings won't effect my children.
Because really, I'm finding that physics isn't that bad. Plus, my kids are loving it.
Get Real Science-4-Kids for yourself
Since we're all on a tight budget, I love a good deal and sale.
Right now RS4K has a referral program going on.
You can get a $20 payback reward toward purchase for each referred friend who makes a purchase.
Plus, if your friends buy before September 30th they get 30% off.
You also can get $30 off too, if you purchase through this link.
Winning all around!
I love this. Such a caring company looking out for the best of us homeschool families.
With each $20 you can turn around and buy next year's curriculum!
To sum it up
Look at what's most important to you in a homeschool curriculum. Let go of the things you think you ought to be doing and what others are. What is it that you value the most? What are your goals for your children?
Use those as a jumping point. If your goals and standards are anywhere near mine, then I suggest, friend to friend, that you look into RS4K.