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Why is science not emphasized as much as other subjects?


staceyobu
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This is just something I've been pondering. We discuss history programs endlessly on here, but science threads typically go down the path of "just do nature studies and follow interests". I'm not saying that's a bad thing... it's just interesting to me that no one would ever suggest that in terms of studying history. Instead, almost everyone on here advocates some systematic approach to studying history.

 

Another example... my elementary school taught no formal grammar. Their belief was that students intuitively grasp correct grammar in their first language. You don't need to be explicitly taught when to use were/was... one will sound right. I think overall their approach worked. I believe my sentence structure is decently good most of the time. However, most on here advocate lots of grammar starting early with six year olds learning definitions of nouns.

 

I guess I'm just wondering what sets science apart? Why is their not more of an emphasis on a systematic study of science? Is it just that most people on here don't like discussing science as much as math or history? Is it because classical education doesn't emphasize it as much? Is it because interest led approach to science really works the best? Or have we just not figured out another ideal way to teach it?

 

I really love science. I want to pass that on to my kids. I want them to know early on how complex the world is and how to try and understand it. I'd just like to know exactly how to do that!

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Perhaps because WTM does this a bit? Perhaps because SWB is a word/history/theology person?

 

Science is our spine. I think kiddo is too young to understand the complexities of human history (the behavioral part). I refuse to sugar coat. So, we go over people and facts, and science is our focus. Just as I work to give a "profound understanding of basic math", I'm working to give a profound understanding of our physical world.

 

He knows a lot more about science than I did at that age.

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:bigear: We actually do 2 science curricula at once AND nature study. History? What's that? No...just kidding. We do Usborne and links that go with it...and call it a day. Definitely not WTM when it comes to sci/his, but I am all ears to hear what others have to say!!

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I think it's because Science, at any more than a fairly superficial level, requires pretty strong math skills. And what that leaves is hands on exploration and observation of the world under the child's hands, reading books and (maybe) memorizing facts while the math skills catch up. And a lot of the exploration and observation part can be done about as well by sending your child outside to play as in formal instruction. I was raised by scientists, and that's how I was raised-go outside and play, and talk about what you observe, make hypothesis and test them. They provided equipment, a little guidance, and space-and were vehemently opposed to what passed for "Science" in my elementary school.

 

With DD, they encourage me to do the same thing-provide equipment, tools, opportunities, and space, and go from there in the early years, so that, when the child finally has the math and reasoning skills needed to study it more formally, they have all these experiences to grow on.

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I read an article that suggested that a merging of Charlotte Mason with John Holt would result in the ideal plan.

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=ED510702

 

That being said, I think there is a sense that science is somehow so interesting, children will learn on their own, until they get to high school, whereas history, not being tangible, must be fleshed out and delved into. I think Nebel's BFSU does present the view that one should instruct chldren in a way that exposes them to scientific thought in an organized way, and others embrace other ideas, such as is outlined in WTM.

 

I also think most people are literature and science buffs and so are more captivated by this than science, but are sufficiently anxious about math that they plan it out.

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I think it's because Science, at any more than a fairly superficial level, requires pretty strong math skills. And what that leaves is hands on exploration and observation of the world under the child's hands, reading books and (maybe) memorizing facts while the math skills catch up. And a lot of the exploration and observation part can be done about as well by sending your child outside to play as in formal instruction. I was raised by scientists, and that's how I was raised-go outside and play, and talk about what you observe, make hypothesis and test them. They provided equipment, a little guidance, and space-and were vehemently opposed to what passed for "Science" in my elementary school.

 

With DD, they encourage me to do the same thing-provide equipment, tools, opportunities, and space, and go from there in the early years, so that, when the child finally has the math and reasoning skills needed to study it more formally, they have all these experiences to grow on.

 

:iagree:

 

Beyond the math issue, young children also don't have the life experience and generally don't have the brain maturity to really understand the abstract concepts that one needs to understand to really study science.

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I think it's because Science, at any more than a fairly superficial level, requires pretty strong math skills. And what that leaves is hands on exploration and observation of the world under the child's hands, reading books and (maybe) memorizing facts while the math skills catch up. And a lot of the exploration and observation part can be done about as well by sending your child outside to play as in formal instruction.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

I studied science in college and it's very difficult to do an in-depth study of the subject until the student has completed at least algebra (and for physics, calculus).

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We didn't do formal science until 4th grade. Before that we did a lot of experiments that were disconnected, but no curriculum, and that was mostly because it was darn hard to find a GOOD secular science!

 

Now that he's in middle school science is done every day, sometimes for half the day or more. He needs it. Science is the subject that connects history and math, Latin and Greek..I admit that I cringe when I hear parents of kids his age talk about doing science once a week or not at all. For us, it's one of the things that public school lacked and we need to build up at home.

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I think that science gets as much attention as history does, but I think it depends on a family's "bent." We are very much humanities focused...my majors in school were Political Science, History, and later an MA in teaching ESL, and my dh is a business / economics guy. Science is something I have to make great effort to think about--it's not that I don't find it important, I just don't think about it in the same way.

 

I think my kids take after me a bit--they love the stories of history, want to study lanugage, ask to read more, more, more about people and events.

 

Science is something that we kind of check off the list. Other families adore science and find it hard to work in the history...Just my observations.

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I agree with what others have said, especially about the math. Also, I think the potential that nature study has is underestimated sometimes (not saying the OP is.) I have my bachelor's in a science, and have always loved it. Yet, I don't remember the lab's/experiments that we did in younger grades. I do however remember almost every type of butterfly from my butterfly collection that I made with my mom in elementary school. I think the beauty of nature study, is that you help children learn to love the outdoors and when they are excited about something, they will learn much better and retain the info much longer. It's more than just pointing out something in nature and saying you did science for the week. It's mom and dad showing interest and excitement and helping their kids to feel the same. It's asking a question about something you're observing and then discovering the answer together, and then helping them apply the information in another situation.

 

But I agree with others about wishing there was better science material available to the early grades.

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:iagree:

 

Beyond the math issue, young children also don't have the life experience and generally don't have the brain maturity to really understand the abstract concepts that one needs to understand to really study science.

 

Just to play devil's advocate... can't the argument be made that a lot of historical concepts also require a certain amount of maturity to grasp? However, we work to simplify history for young children.

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Well, I think I see as many science-related (HELP!) posts as history-related ones. (I also hang on the Middle School board.) I agree with the poster who said that we lack the multitude of *good* science programs - ones that fit our various worldviews (secular, Young Earth, Old Earth, evolution-based, neutral, etc.) and which meet the requirements we are looking for. For an example, not too long ago, someone posted asking what the ideal "SOTW-with-AG"-like Science program would be like in The Hive's Eyes. The opinions were ALL OVER the place. What works for me might not work for the next family. There seem to be a LOT of history programs out there for the different world-views - and most families can find one that works - at least for one stage of their family's life. There are less science programs that work for people.

 

However, most on here advocate lots of grammar starting early with six year olds learning definitions of nouns.

 

I think you'll find that many of the posters with older kids find themselves more relaxed on grammar in the early years. I don't teach formal grammar to my kids until 3rd grade. I don't think I'm in the vast minority on the boards, either.

 

I guess I'm just wondering what sets science apart? Why is their not more of an emphasis on a systematic study of science? Is it just that most people on here don't like discussing science as much as math or history? Is it because classical education doesn't emphasize it as much? Is it because interest led approach to science really works the best? Or have we just not figured out another ideal way to teach it?

 

I think science is one of those topics (like art) that bugs homeschooling parents. They want to do it, but they don't always get it done. It might be the large Woolly Mammoth in the corner that they don't like talking about as much as the shiny (LA/math/history) car in the driveway. *shrug* But, I see many posts asking for help with choosing a *good* science program for their kids. And, many parents will spend a lot more on science (per year) than most other single-topic programs (grammar, spelling, math).

 

I do think that Classical Education emphasizes science just as much as history in the big picture.

 

LA & math are *skills* that need to be learned, IMO. Science & History are things that can be learned more easily once you have a good base in math & LA.

 

Exposure to ideas is important from a young age - which is why reading good books (science or history), hands-on (science), and talking about things are always encouraged.

 

I'll offer one more comment. I remember nothing (zero, zilch) of my history studies through fourth grade. I remember only one science thing (a kid made a volcano for extra credit & we watched it erupt after school one night) from K-3rd. My history foundation, however poor, was laid in middle school & up. My science foundation was laid in fourth grade and up, although it didn't interest me until 10th grade (post-Biology).

 

My husband and I are both engineers. Science is important to us.

Edited by RootAnn
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I think because there isn't that much to talk about.

 

Most of the science resources stink.

 

End of post. LOL.

 

Seriously, it is so difficult to find a science curriculum that makes people happy.

 

I gave up looking for the perfect curriculum and just teach it because it needs teaching. I think we like science. My son especially but he doesn't like it because of the curriculum we use. I think he likes it in spite of that.

 

If he grows up to be an electrical engineer, I'll credit Snap Circuits and Mythbusters and NOT "x" science publisher.

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We absolutely LOVE science in our house. We are far more math/science focused than any other subjects. I am also one that writes....let them follow their interests and read, read, read. Why? First of all b/c it works. And as others have pointed out, science requires certain cognitive/math skills in order to study in-depth.

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1. It's pretty easy for homeschool kids tO pick up all they need for K-5 Science from books and videos.

 

2. Science can't be easily made into a cuddle on the couch story. Thus it's harder for us to "teach."

 

3. Let's face it. Traditional textbook Science is about as interesting as toilet cleaning. So we probably don't mostly have fond memories of it either.

 

And then, if we want to be really cool and make it fun then we have to spend a ton of money and make tons of messes.

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Our family focuses as much on Science as we do on History. We use Nebel and Core Knowledge for older, and NL plus lots of books for younger. I require living books on both history and science to be read weekly. We discuss new scientific discoveries at least once a week, often more.

 

I think science is less linear than other subjects, and hence it's harder to feel like "you have a grasp on it". And it's such a HUGE topic that it's hard to feel like anything one does is sufficient, so many people throw up their hands and hope for the best (not neccesarily the people on this forum! ;)) It's hard to find a systematic approach, if one even exists, to science.

 

The longer I homeschool, the more I believe that curricula aren't the answer.

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1. It's pretty easy for homeschool kids tO pick up all they need for K-5 Science from books and videos.

 

2. Science can't be easily made into a cuddle on the couch story. Thus it's harder for us to "teach."

 

3. Let's face it. Traditional textbook Science is about as interesting as toilet cleaning. So we probably don't mostly have fond memories of it either.

 

And then, if we want to be really cool and make it fun then we have to spend a ton of money and make tons of messes.

 

:iagree: with just about all of the above. (I did "textbook science" up 'till first year Bio because I knew it was fascinating, but the profs & texts failed to convince me).

 

I finally got lazy and bought Apologia even though we're not YE at all, or even Christian, and I have to edit out the Jesus bits that are thrown in at random. :lol: At least we can sit down and read it and it's a little like history, and we all get something out of it. I have the Joy Hakim books, too, for when they get older. There ARE stories out there, but you have to hunt a bit more. Slowly but surely, I think curriculum like this will be created...

 

For the OP, I think people here DO take science seriously, but if The Old Schoolhouse magazine is to be believed, it seems like many make the mistake of incorporating it merely as a negative into "worldview" teachings ("here's what we don't believe"). There is so much you can teach about the world irrespective of your religious beliefs.

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I see several different reasons, the most important one being the lack of decent science materials at below-highschool/college level. Yes, in order to do science really thoroughly, math skills are important. BUT that does not mean, one can not do science before that - it is only much harder to develop quality materials and you need some really good experts to do that.

It is much more difficult to explain a concept in a simplified yet correct way than it is to explain it with full mathematical rigor. Most science materials I have seen simplify to the degree that makes the explanations incorrect.

The big problem I see is that there is little market: the school textbooks that get approved and used are abysmal, but since they are being adopted by people without a science background, they get used and nothing ever changes. (Which, as I have explained elsewhere, is probably why the college materials are of infinitely better quality, because the adopting professors are experts themselves)

 

Btw, there is a lot of science you can do at a pretty high level without any mathematics. You can do a lot of geology, quite some astronomy. Most of biology (except for the biochemistry)- all classification, function and structure of organisms is completely math free. You can even do a lot of conceptual physics without math - but you need somebody who has the thorough understanding of math based physics to extract the concepts and teach them at a math-free level. You can do quite a bit of chemistry without math (except of course stoichiometry which is just quantitative, not qualitative).

 

I actually do not think the recommendation for nature studies in younger years a bad thing. Science begins with observation. younger children can observe nature around them and use this as a jumping point for questions.

Science starts by observing something and asking "why?".

So, while I am doing no "formal" textbook science with younger children , they can receive a great science education from observing and discussing.

And yes, it would be nice if there were more resources available to make the task easier for parents who do not have a scientific background.

 

Lastly, the WTM approach is weak in science probably because SWB has a humanities background. The WTM science recommendations for high school, when rigorous science would be possible, are seriously lacking. This is where some counsel from people with a more scientific background would have been beneficial.

Edited by regentrude
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My husband and I both studied science and engineering in college and would love our kids to do so also. Yet science is at the bottom of our teaching list for elementary. I agree with an earlier post re: the importance of math and getting to algebra. I see elementary math as the formal arm of science in these grades - preparing them for physics, chem & bio in HS and college. But we have been doing a lot informally with 'story of science' introductions to scientists, concepts and phenomena, play-based nature study, and museums. Later on everyone will get a chemistry set, microscope, etc. too. But we focus on math. I saw too many science enthusiasts growing up and in college that hit the math wall and had to drop out.

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I don't think most traditional texts cover anything new or interesting from K-4. You do some weather, look at the solar system, show chicks hatching, some nature study, and a bunch of other concepts without any context. I know I don't want to spend my time doing that according to a textbook. By the time you actually start learning about a topic, you're on to something completely unrelated.

 

You can try to cover science chronologically, and SWB talks about that. It's tough to do with most topics, unless you lay out large themes to focus on. (Again, as in "the book.") You still miss out on a lot of the interconnectedness for each topic. Studying science, like studying history, is less skill-based than math or language work. History has the benefit of chronology. When you cover something in the elementary years, you hope it will sound vaguely familiar later on. It's the same for elementary science, but you don't have that framework to progress through. It's more of a web than a line.

 

By requesting stacks of books on a particular topic, and reading it to exhaustion (mine), and following all of the trails it leads us down, we have covered more in the last year on dinosaurs and fossils and the solar system and other topics than I covered through middle school. I haven't seen an alternative that would cover as much, or as in-depth, if I were using a framework at this early stage. Now I just hope some of the words ring a bell when everyone gets a little older!

 

I think reading books, nature study, and testing things in the real world is a good fit for our family. I see elementary into middle school years as the time to build your skill subjects. You put those skills to use in your other fields after that.

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One big reason why it's so hard to find decent lab-based science curricula for elementary-age children is that federal law makes it extremely expensive for a company to produce science kits for young children. The law is called Consumer Product Safety Safety Improvement Act

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_Product_Safety_Improvement_Act

 

and has made it just about impossible to sell science kits for children. Here's an article about it:

 

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/10/01/science-kit-makers-battle-feds-safety-tests-paper-clips/

 

This law is also giving school and public librarians and used bookstore owners fits because the law establishes maximum levels of lead allowable in products intended for use by children. As is usually true, laws have unforeseen consequences, and one of these has been widespread destruction of children's books, including both recent and antique ones, because of the cost of testing them for lead.

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I think that younger kids are developmentally most suited to focusing on acquiring a lot of experiences in whatever subject they are learning about. It is those experiences that will give them the grounding to study the subject later in a more structured, logical, and abstract way.

 

For me that is how I approach all subjects for younger kids - pre-grammar and up through the grammar stage, though as that goes on they become more abstract as well.

 

So for history, that means reading a lot of stories, getting to know different personalities, getting a basic sense of the flow of history, or different ways of thinking about the world, and just a concept of treating history and the people who populated it from their own perspective. In LA it means exposure to a lot of really great literature, reading it and hearing it and memory workk and so on. A similar approach applies to art and music. In math, I think a deep experience of actually working with quantity, measurement, shapes, and so on is much more important than learning how to notate those things in a math program (which isn't to say kids can't learn that too.)

 

For science, nature study fulfills that need. Lots of time actually observing nature, living things, rocks, weather patterns, learning their names, experiencing what they do.

 

In Gerald Durell's book The Amateur Naturalist he talks about having students who did not know the difference between frog and toad spawn, because they had never gone looking for it in a ditch. They had seen lots of nature films and spent lots of time in classrooms. But which students were better prepared, in the end? Which really knew nature?

 

I think it is like Plato says - we can look at the shadows on the wlls, or we can try to look at the things in themselves. Getting out there and looking at nature is looking at the things in themselves. And when the teacher tries to insert himself too much between the student and the object, be it nature, or language, or whatever, it can actually prevent the student from developing a relationship with the object. Instead they develop a relation to the abstraction or to the teacher.

 

That, I think, is why the recommendation is to start off with nature study throughout much of the pre-grammar and grammar stage. It is also why I would tend to avoid much abstracted grammar in a LA context until kids are a bit older as well.

 

I also think people imagine that nature study is easy, or not "deep", and that is totally false. It is by looking at nature directly that we get all those abstractions we call science.

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This is the primary reason we do not consider ourselves WTM followers. We find it woefully lacking in the science department. Certainly, if you have a science background it's not a huge deal - your child will be exposed; but if you are just the average joe when it comes to science, and you follow the WTM, I'm not sure where that would your science studies.

 

We tend to be more science and math centered than lit or history centered. I'm not a science type of gal, but my husband is a scientist by passion and education (though no longer in career).

Edited by AimeeM
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Interesting conversation. I've just spent the better part of the weekend trying to decide on a chemistry book for high school. I'm no expert in chemistry and my son only has a so/so interest in the subject. So I've contemplated textbooks, living books, experiment books all weekend. We prefer secular and honestly I found no textbook that sang to me. High school textbooks are too filled with pictures, captions, sidenotes, etc. College textbooks are too detailed for his interest level.

 

But this dilemma has been ongoing in our house. Ds likes science, he absorbs science in everyday life. He's watched Alton Brown and Mythbusters and science shows since he could walk. We did nature study for several years and had the perfect yard to encounter everything from armadillos and alligators (yes, the real kind) to spiders and snakes. We studied lizards in their natural habitat and made a solar system in the driveway (Apologia Astronomy).

 

He knows the basics of chem, bio, and physics. But how do I keep the "wonder of the why" alive? Ds decided he wanted to learn about relativity this year. I didn't understand relativity, but we found some sources and read together. It was awesome, the "why" is still there. But it wasn't in a textbook.

 

The only science curriculum we both enjoyed was Ellen McHenry's The Elements. I feel like we learn more when I piece together from focused curriculum like the Elements and add living books or adult level interest books. The problem is, and I would assume this might be the issue for many, is that my knowledge of the subject is limited. I can find sections, but are they the right sections? Are they enough?

 

So the issue of quality materials doesn't end in high school. There are more options, but they don't cover the gamut of needs and interest levels.

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My daughter is only in fifth but I can relate. Her interest and ability in science go beyond my own ability. My husband is much better suited to help her, but he works full time and often travels - so that isn't an option. While her science ability is advanced, her reading and other skills related (like writing and relaying information) is still quite young. I'm not sure where we will go after Ellen McHenry. We need a Physics program after McHenry's two chemistry programs (hubby says Physics should naturally follow or be learned beside Chem) and I have absolutely no clue where we will go. She simply doesn't care for reading enough to do this out of living books - it would kill her passion for it.

Interesting conversation. I've just spent the better part of the weekend trying to decide on a chemistry book for high school. I'm no expert in chemistry and my son only has a so/so interest in the subject. So I've contemplated textbooks, living books, experiment books all weekend. We prefer secular and honestly I found no textbook that sang to me. High school textbooks are too filled with pictures, captions, sidenotes, etc. College textbooks are too detailed for his interest level.

 

But this dilemma has been ongoing in our house. Ds likes science, he absorbs science in everyday life. He's watched Alton Brown and Mythbusters and science shows since he could walk. We did nature study for several years and had the perfect yard to encounter everything from armadillos and alligators (yes, the real kind) to spiders and snakes. We studied lizards in their natural habitat and made a solar system in the driveway (Apologia Astronomy).

 

He knows the basics of chem, bio, and physics. But how do I keep the "wonder of the why" alive? Ds decided he wanted to learn about relativity this year. I didn't understand relativity, but we found some sources and read together. It was awesome, the "why" is still there. But it wasn't in a textbook.

 

The only science curriculum we both enjoyed was Ellen McHenry's The Elements. I feel like we learn more when I piece together from focused curriculum like the Elements and add living books or adult level interest books. The problem is, and I would assume this might be the issue for many, is that my knowledge of the subject is limited. I can find sections, but are they the right sections? Are they enough?

 

So the issue of quality materials doesn't end in high school. There are more options, but they don't cover the gamut of needs and interest levels.

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I personally think the math skill argument is a cop-out, especially in the elementary years. I can see how the going could get trickier in middle school when Johnny is starting to grasp higher order concepts but can't do the work required to go all the way with them. But, at the elementary level? No. Grade school biology does not require algebra. I don't think the OP has observed many people with 3rd graders on this board exasperated that they can't move Johnny on to nuclear physics because his math skills just aren't there yet. :tongue_smilie: It's more a problem of finding a good science program that is appropriate for the needs of the younger crowd.

 

I think science gets talked about a lot here. What is lacking is decent programs. Not that one NEEDS a program, but it's helpful if you don't know where to start.

 

:iagree:and I do think most people could benefit from using a program because...

 

...science is less linear than other subjects, and hence it's harder to feel like "you have a grasp on it". And it's such a HUGE topic that it's hard to feel like anything one does is sufficient, so many people throw up their hands and hope for the best (not neccesarily the people on this forum! ;)) It's hard to find a systematic approach, if one even exists, to science.

 

The longer I homeschool, the more I believe that curricula aren't the answer.

 

:iagree:wholeheartedly with the bolded. I do think that the perfect curriculum would indeed be the answer (and yes, I get that perfect is different for different people, so I basically just mean me :D).

 

Just to play devil's advocate... can't the argument be made that a lot of historical concepts also require a certain amount of maturity to grasp? However, we work to simplify history for young children.

 

:iagree: Just as we do history at a younger child's level, we can do science at a younger child's level.

 

I think because there isn't that much to talk about.

 

Most of the science resources stink.

 

End of post. LOL.

 

Precisely. It's why I've gone my own way for science.

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Why isn't Apologia Elementary Science considered to be a legitimate program (at least by Christians)? We LOVE it!! We use the kits and it is open and go. It has experiments and narration and notebooking/lapbooking so it is very Charlotte Mason. I can't understand why classical homeschoolers don't sell these programs in the elementary years but sell them in the older grades. I understand the math argument but I don't understand why you would need strong math to understand the science in the elementary level books. I think they are awesome!! Once when visiting VP's warehouse I saw several of them laying around so I guess they were reviewing them or something but they didn't end up selling them......Too bad.

 

stm4him

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Why isn't Apologia Elementary Science considered to be a legitimate program (at least by Christians)? We LOVE it!! We use the kits and it is open and go. It has experiments and narration and notebooking/lapbooking so it is very Charlotte Mason. I can't understand why classical homeschoolers don't sell these programs in the elementary years but sell them in the older grades. I understand the math argument but I don't understand why you would need strong math to understand the science in the elementary level books. I think they are awesome!! Once when visiting VP's warehouse I saw several of them laying around so I guess they were reviewing them or something but they didn't end up selling them......Too bad.

 

stm4him

 

I can't answer for others... but my personal issue with apologia is how long they spend on a topic. A year of life science seems long to me... but they spend 3 years on zoology, a year of flying creatures, and a year of botany... oh and a year of anatomy! That is what? Something like 6 years of life science? I wish they had some other options for younger kids such as chemistry or geology or weather or anything!

 

I do feel like they are some of the best looking science textbooks out there. I like that they have full color pictures and a good amount of reading per subject.

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Interesting conversation. I've just spent the better part of the weekend trying to decide on a chemistry book for high school. I'm no expert in chemistry and my son only has a so/so interest in the subject. So I've contemplated textbooks, living books, experiment books all weekend. We prefer secular and honestly I found no textbook that sang to me. High school textbooks are too filled with pictures, captions, sidenotes, etc. College textbooks are too detailed for his interest level.

 

But this dilemma has been ongoing in our house. Ds likes science, he absorbs science in everyday life. He's watched Alton Brown and Mythbusters and science shows since he could walk. We did nature study for several years and had the perfect yard to encounter everything from armadillos and alligators (yes, the real kind) to spiders and snakes. We studied lizards in their natural habitat and made a solar system in the driveway (Apologia Astronomy).

 

He knows the basics of chem, bio, and physics. But how do I keep the "wonder of the why" alive? Ds decided he wanted to learn about relativity this year. I didn't understand relativity, but we found some sources and read together. It was awesome, the "why" is still there. But it wasn't in a textbook.

 

The only science curriculum we both enjoyed was Ellen McHenry's The Elements. I feel like we learn more when I piece together from focused curriculum like the Elements and add living books or adult level interest books. The problem is, and I would assume this might be the issue for many, is that my knowledge of the subject is limited. I can find sections, but are they the right sections? Are they enough?

 

So the issue of quality materials doesn't end in high school. There are more options, but they don't cover the gamut of needs and interest levels.

 

Based on this description, I would recommend looking into Spectrum Chemistry. It sounds like it fits what you are looking for.

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This is just something I've been pondering. We discuss history programs endlessly on here, but science threads typically go down the path of "just do nature studies and follow interests". I'm not saying that's a bad thing... it's just interesting to me that no one would ever suggest that in terms of studying history. Instead, almost everyone on here advocates some systematic approach to studying history.

 

Another example... my elementary school taught no formal grammar. Their belief was that students intuitively grasp correct grammar in their first language. You don't need to be explicitly taught when to use were/was... one will sound right. I think overall their approach worked. I believe my sentence structure is decently good most of the time. However, most on here advocate lots of grammar starting early with six year olds learning definitions of nouns.

 

I guess I'm just wondering what sets science apart? Why is their not more of an emphasis on a systematic study of science? Is it just that most people on here don't like discussing science as much as math or history? Is it because classical education doesn't emphasize it as much? Is it because interest led approach to science really works the best? Or have we just not figured out another ideal way to teach it?

 

I really love science. I want to pass that on to my kids. I want them to know early on how complex the world is and how to try and understand it. I'd just like to know exactly how to do that!

 

 

I have wondered the same. Science is huge in our house!! We do the science along with MFW (plus a lot of extra books to go along with it) and we do another science program (plus a lot of extra books to go along with it) I posed a grammar question- its clear people do love a lot of grammar!! They did make sense but I was not taught grammar in school either. I knew what a noun, verb and adjective was. Thats it. I never diagrammed a sentence, I never learned anything else. Dd was struggling with transitive verbs and intransitive verbs and I had a hard time helping her to understand what was and what was not receiving the action. Oh well. Signed her up for the BJU DLO grammar option.

 

Sorry about the ramble- we are major science geeks here :D

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I believe that textbooks are a weak way to study history and science. Textbooks skim the surface finding pre-selected tidbits of information that the compilers of the textbook have pre-determined as important and then expect students to regurgitate the pre-digested selections.

 

I guess I am at a loss to understand why textbooks are seen as an answer and superior and why "just read whole books on topics" is deemed a lower level of exposure to material. A student reading entire books across the science spectrum is going to have encountered far greater depth on the material and will have been required to digest the information on their own. They will have read pages and pages on material that may have been reduced to a few paragraphs in a textbook. (the equivalent of reading a biography on an individual or a 4 paragraph summary in a textbook.)

 

FWIW, I think it was Halcyon that posted that she doesn't believe curricula is the answer. If curricula means textbooks, I agree. A love for science and a solid foundation for scientific understanding can be established through whole books. And, it is precisely b/c science is so broad that freedom to explore topics in-depth works so well during the elementary yrs.

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To the OP...

 

The Well-Trained Mind is a book on how to do a liberal arts education at home. By the very nature of it, liberal arts focuses on humanities, not sciences. Although science is covered, it is not given the same amount of emphasis as the humanities. By definition, it is what it is.

 

ETA: And since this is the K-8 board, you might as well know that I never did ANY formal science with my kids until 7th grade, and I'm sure there are others like me. It just is what it is. (Did I say that already?)

 

Maybe I should clarify.... my question isn't just about the WTM book, but more about the opinion of homeschoolers on here in general. Even a lot of homeschoolers I know irl, who aren't necessarily classical, don't emphasize science in early grades.

 

My question for you is this... why do you feel that it's okay to not do science until 7th? Are there other subjects you would feel comfortable on waiting until 7th to complete? Grammar or latin or history? Why does science get the short stick? Edited to add... I'm not saying it's wrong to wait on teaching science. I'm just interested in the reasoning behind it.

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Maybe I should clarify.... my question isn't just about the WTM book, but more about the opinion of homeschoolers on here in general. Even a lot of homeschoolers I know irl, who aren't necessarily classical, don't emphasize science in early grades.

 

My question for you is this... why do you feel that it's okay to not do science until 7th? Are there other subjects you would feel comfortable on waiting until 7th to complete? Grammar or latin or history? Why does science get the short stick?

 

I think you are misconstruing what is being articulated. Formal study does not equate to NOT doing science. My kids, also, do not do formal study of science prior to around 8th grade. However, they study science every single day for 30-45 mins.

 

I have no problem w/skepticism. ;) Simply b/c others do not believe it builds a solid scientific understanding does not mean they correct. It is an approach that works and works well.

 

Our oldest is a college Cum Laude graduate w/a degree in chemical engineering. His first science textbook was in 8th grade.

 

Our 10th grader took high school physics in 8th, chem in 9th, AP Chem now as a 10th grader w/something like a 98 through ChemAdvantage. He is also on his 2nd college astronomy textbook. He wants to major in either physics or astrophysics. His first textbook type study was in 7th grade via Plato science online.

 

(Our college freshman at one time wanted to major in chemistry, but she thinks she has changed her mind. Our Aspie is like nailing jello to a tree, but he currently thinks he wants to major in civil engineering. )

 

Not one of them had formal science textbook science during their younger yrs. None of them had to "adjust" to textbook science. None of them have ever had any problems w/science. THey thoroughly enjoy science and always have.

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Btw, there is a lot of science you can do at a pretty high level without any mathematics.

 

I agree and rarely see heavily math-based science, even among most college classes. I think it's because most homeschooling parents are gung-ho about literature and history.

 

Btw this is a nice resource on homeschooling

http://www.funschooling.net/

 

As Jane in NC posted at one point, there are lots of free PDFs for downloading from the National Academy of Sciences such as Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits and A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas

Edited by stripe
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I guess I am at a loss to understand why textbooks are seen as an answer and superior and why "just read whole books on topics" is deemed a lower level of exposure to material. A student reading entire books across the science spectrum is going to have encountered far greater depth on the material and will have been required to digest the information on their own. They will have read pages and pages on material that may have been reduced to a few paragraphs in a textbook. (the equivalent of reading a biography on an individual or a 4 paragraph summary in a textbook.)

 

FWIW, I think it was Halcyon that posted that she doesn't believe curricula is the answer. If curricula means textbooks, I agree. A love for science and a solid foundation for scientific understanding can be established through whole books. And, it is precisely b/c science is so broad that freedom to explore topics in-depth works so well during the elementary yrs.

 

Did anyone say textbooks were superior? I am not getting that from this conversation. I said, as others have, that a program would be helpful. Obviously, the perfect program would be defined differently for different people (a big part of the problem). I don't want a textbook, but a resource put together by scientists that ties together the disciplines and helps guide me as a teacher? Yes please! A book with a list of living books cross-referenced by subject matter? I'll take it! A list of science topics and sub-topics with suggestions for relevant supplies to have on hand for guided discovery? Where do I order? A concise reference for the teacher which provides an overview of the subject matter so I am not flying blind? Sold! A true inquiry curriculum with all of these attributes? Just take my wallet now. :lol:

 

I am doing all of this for myself because it is what I demand in a science program. But I would pay big bucks for someone more qualified to do it for me, and I could spend more of my free time quilting. :D

Edited by Alte Veste Academy
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Did anyone say textbooks were superior? I am not getting that from this conversation. I said, as others have, that a program would be helpful. Obviously, the perfect program would be defined differently for different people (a big part of the problem). I don't want a textbook but a resource put together by scientists that ties together the disciplines and helps guide me as a teacher? Yes please! A book with a list of living books cross-referenced by subject matter? I'll take it! A list of science topics and sub-topics with suggestions for relevant supplies to have on hand for guided discovery? Where do I order? A concise reference for the teacher which provides an overview of the subject matter so I am not flying blind? Sold!

 

I am doing all of this for myself because it is what I demand in a science program. But I would pay big bucks for someone more qualified to do it for me, and I could spend more of my free time quilting. :D

 

I guess suggesting not controlling it and simply letting them study what they want is not going to please you. :D ;)

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I guess suggesting not controlling it and simply letting them study what they want is not going to please you. :D ;)

 

Yes, I definitely don't think textbooks are the answer. We study history with living books systematically, though. I mean, we don't typically suggest to do history in an interest led fashion only. I guess my basic question is if interest led science works, why does it work for science and not for other subjects? And, if it doesn't work, why does everyone suggest it? Is there any concern with a child who is fascinated with rocks and never learns any physics? Or do you work to fill in these blanks in the high school years?

 

Also, I would say there is a vast difference between doing something along the lines of checking out all the weather books from the library one year, and all the anatomy books the next year and reading through them versus the approach of no science at all until the 7th grade.

 

I am not challenging the idea that some of you have successful scientists with interest led science only. I guess I'm wondering how those interests were pursued. And what about a kid who has no interest in science? How do you encourage them?

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And what about a kid who has no interest in science? How do you encourage them?

 

:bigear: I have a child who is very interested in science, but his interest lies primarily in one branch of science. I've taken to doing 2 science tracks where we study his major interest area and another branch of science each week. My other son isn't too interested in anything scientific unless it explodes all over the place.

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I meant to add this in.....

 

They are coming out with a Physics/Chemistry book this Spring and a Geology/Earth Science book in 2014. So that will make it a "complete" program. WTM emphasizes studying a topic in depth so I don't see it as a negative. Also, Astronomy and Botany were both written to last one semester each. I think Physics and Chemistry will be shorter b/c there is less that one can explain in those topics without higher level Math. But I'm sure it will be awesome! I think Chemistry is only 4 lessons and Physics will be 10 (that or the other way around). We're planning to cover them all in 6 years....that's 8 books in 6 years. But we school year round......

 

stm4him

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Not all Christians are YE. Apologia would never work for us. It is far too entrenched in "biblical science" and in the Young Earth theory for it to ever work the way we want it to.

Why isn't Apologia Elementary Science considered to be a legitimate program (at least by Christians)? We LOVE it!! We use the kits and it is open and go. It has experiments and narration and notebooking/lapbooking so it is very Charlotte Mason. I can't understand why classical homeschoolers don't sell these programs in the elementary years but sell them in the older grades. I understand the math argument but I don't understand why you would need strong math to understand the science in the elementary level books. I think they are awesome!! Once when visiting VP's warehouse I saw several of them laying around so I guess they were reviewing them or something but they didn't end up selling them......Too bad.

 

stm4him

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Not all children are able to apply what they learn from whole or living books to the topic at hand - or/especially when it comes to applying it across more than one scientific field. Guiding a child in doing this correctly, if the child doesn't have that natural ability, requires a parent who is strong in that area.

I believe that textbooks are a weak way to study history and science. Textbooks skim the surface finding pre-selected tidbits of information that the compilers of the textbook have pre-determined as important and then expect students to regurgitate the pre-digested selections.

 

I guess I am at a loss to understand why textbooks are seen as an answer and superior and why "just read whole books on topics" is deemed a lower level of exposure to material. A student reading entire books across the science spectrum is going to have encountered far greater depth on the material and will have been required to digest the information on their own. They will have read pages and pages on material that may have been reduced to a few paragraphs in a textbook. (the equivalent of reading a biography on an individual or a 4 paragraph summary in a textbook.)

 

FWIW, I think it was Halcyon that posted that she doesn't believe curricula is the answer. If curricula means textbooks, I agree. A love for science and a solid foundation for scientific understanding can be established through whole books. And, it is precisely b/c science is so broad that freedom to explore topics in-depth works so well during the elementary yrs.

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I believe that textbooks are a weak way to study history and science. Textbooks skim the surface finding pre-selected tidbits of information that the compilers of the textbook have pre-determined as important and then expect students to regurgitate the pre-digested selections.

 

I don't quite agree.

If you want to do a systematic treatment, you have to start with certain things and them move on to others- so it's not that a textbook author decided on "random tidbits", there is a rhyme and reason to the sequence.

You can't talk about cellular respiration and photosynthesis without having an understanding of basic biochemistry. So, that must come first.

You can not talk about general relativity if the student has no idea about Newtonian mechanics.

What bothers me about the "living books" approach is precisely the unsystematic nature: you can read about one specific topic, but may not necessarily have the background to understand what is going on. (For example: I love the book The Double Helix, but I doubt I would have understood what he was talking about had I not had a basic knowledge of crystallography).

For some students, an approach that uses living books only will seem disjointed and unsystematic and will frustrate a very analytical learner.

 

There are many well written non-fiction books on scientific topics - and many poor ones. If a parent is unable to discern this, a bad choice of book can turn a student off the topic. I personally am not happy with the living books available for middle school age students. I have not found science books at that level that held my children's interest - often the material is too simplified and the tone condescending. And the good books for adults are just a tad too hard, even for strong readers. (For example, Bryson's Short history of nearly everything is a good book - but for my 6th grader, the reading was difficult and slow, and spending this much time came at the expense of learning about more topics)

 

I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the science options for the middle grades; we muddle through until we are able to do a systematic approach with college textbooks, which is the approach my children prefer.

 

8, do you have any advice how you dealt with the random nature of topics covered through living books? I am frustrated by our science options.

Edited by regentrude
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As a career scientist (molecular biology and epidemiology) before becoming a homeschooler, I really feel compelled to make the point that science is about DOING, not about READING. Living books will place science in context, but real science requires hands-on, experiential learning and discovery. Scientific thinking requires a level of intellectual discomfort, of not knowing what will happen, and learning to deal with that. Observation is the key, not maths. Maths makes the explanations cleaner, but early science is about experiencing what really happens, not the paper explanation of it. So physics is about water play, simple machines and backyard ballistics, and geology is dirty and requires exploration of your local area and then other, different places. Chemistry is cooking, explosions, volcanos, dying and soap-making. Nature study expands into biology, botany and physiology, all of which combine to study evolution and classification and the environment.

 

At its best, science is unpredictable. And that's why it is so hard to slot into a timetable.

 

For my money, BFSU is probably the best on offer, with Ellen McHenry's stuff to flesh-out specific topics.

D

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FWIW, I think it was Halcyon that posted that she doesn't believe curricula is the answer. If curricula means textbooks, I agree. A love for science and a solid foundation for scientific understanding can be established through whole books. And, it is precisely b/c science is so broad that freedom to explore topics in-depth works so well during the elementary yrs.

 

 

Yes, I was talking about textbooks, as well as a "set model" such as Elemental Science or NOEO. As for the latter types of curricula, we have found that, for science, following a proscribed series of steps (1. Read pages 243-245 2. draw picture of cell. 3. Write definitions of the following words and so on) simply DOESN'T WORK for us. I had thought, since we enjoy SOTW and the activity guides, and we read the extra reading and answer the questions in the AG, that something similar would work for us for science. But it doesn't. And I think this hearkens back to my earlier post: science is not linear and can't be approached linearly. It is really more an unfolding......a tree, with branches here and branches there, and unexpected branches popping up as you go. By definition, science means rabbit trails. So a "set curriculum" where one plods along a pre-defined path is, for us, very......claustrophobic. Again, this doesn't necessarily apply in other subjects, so it's not as if we are anti-"set plan". But in science, while I do like to have a spine, we spend a huge portion of our science time on rabbit trails, reading living books, watching documentaries, doing demonstrations of various processes (lab work and such) and then seeing where that leads.

 

Nebel, despite its drawbacks, is very good for this type of science. I still have to almost force myself to relax and go with the flow, worried that I am that we're not "getting to it all." But as I mentioned, with science I feel that the scope is so very large, we'd never get to it anyhow! :tongue_smilie:

 

ETA: I agree with Regentrude that textbooks can provide a spine, but they shouldn't serve as the be-all-end-all. They can guide one's science studies, however. Next year, I think we are going to use CPO Life Sciences to guide us; I am not thrilled with the way it's written, but I need a spine.

Edited by Halcyon
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