As a homeschool teacher, do you think of science as a “hard” subject, that is one that requires serious learning and deep discussion? If your goal is to get your kids excited about science, then you are going about it the wrong way. Because young children are instinctively curious about the world around them, it’s natural that they prefer poking and prodding and testing and testing it – in other words playing with science. And that leads to the wonderful ideas that promote science discovery and help them learn more about the process of science.
Play versus Learning Facts
In the traditional science classroom, children are taught to memorize facts; the focus is on rote learning. It’s no wonder that so many kids today are uninterested in pursuing science topics above and beyond what is required in the classroom!
Unfortunately, the rote fact teaching methodology does not involve real science. It is concerned more with helping kids return the right answers in a passive learning framework which involves no risk, no decision-making, and no demands on a child’s inquisitive nature.
Real science has a tangible substance. Real learning of real science involves active participation and teaching kids how to use science by learning the process, not the facts. It encourages them to think, compare, investigate, and experiment. And that can be considered “play” because it’s fun and exciting for kids to learn science in this manner.
Teaching Science In a Playful Manner
When teaching your kids about science, it’s important to get them involved both mentally and physically. There shouldn’t be any concrete answers in their science textbooks and workbooks; instead the curriculum should encourage questioning and help students probe for their own answers based on experimentation and observation. As E. Duckworth states in the 1987 work The Having of Wonderful Ideas and Other Essays on Teaching and Learning, “Any wrong idea that is corrected provides far more depth than if one never had a wrong idea, to begin with. You master the idea much more thoroughly if you have considered alternatives, tried to work it out in areas where it didn’t work, and figured out why it was that it didn’t work, all of which takes time.”
Children want to try to understand the world around them. As they make observations, they will come to conclusions, some of which will be right, others will be wrong. Science becomes fun when kids can take their beliefs about the natural world and compare them to the way things really work, as noted through experimentation. This allows them to play with science and observe the results to form factual conclusions that get them excited about learning more. This teaching methodology encourages kids to let their imagination run wild with new ideas and promotes the continual use of curiosity to form other hypotheses they can test.
Inquiry and discovery lie at the root of the process of real science. This is how scientists work in the real world and it works well for helping your kids get excited about learning science in a homeschool setting.
Many parents believe it is easier to teach homeschool science using the more traditional curriculum that focuses on rote learning. Actually, the reverse is true. A science curriculum that helps the homeschool teacher and student together discover whether or not a hypothesis is correct allows both of them to apply the process of science to everyday life. And that results in real learning of real science.