Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - High School Science

If I'm being completely honest, I have to admit that I have really struggled to find what I would consider to be a good high school science curriculum for homeschoolers.  Either texts are too basic, overviews really, with no math at all, or they are intended to be taught by science majors, and don't provide enough explanation.  After teaching high school for six or seven years now, I have stopped looking.

I'm not a science shirk, but my major was international studies with a minor in English literature.  So, while I took a good deal of science in high school - 1 semester of general "earth" science, 1 semester of biology, 2 semesters of chemistry, and 2 semesters of physics, and even took a little science in college - 1 semester of geology, and 1 of biology, I have not found myself equal to the task of teaching upper level high school science.

What do we do then?
  1. We keep things in perspective. I don't mean to sound anti-educational in any way by this, but honestly, neither the Man of the House nor I have used even half of the science we learned in high school.  That's not to say we don't benefit from, or appreciate science every day, but we are not scientists or health professional ourselves, and have only needed a rudimentary understanding of most scientific concepts to function in our daily lives.  Despite the current STEM push in schools, not every student needs, or will use, an in depth science study.  It is possible my children will not need upper level high school science. With my three who are moving on, it has not held them back from anything they've wanted to do yet. So, I try not to panic. 
  2. We seek outside help. I've mentioned before that we have a very good dual-enrollment program through our local community college.  We have taken advantage of science classes there.  Or at least A(age 18) has, and I hope to have D(age 16) enrolled next year.  None of my oldest three have been interested in pursuing science related fields, and so the college or university level science classes they've taken haven't turned out to be much more in depth than what we provided at home.  D, however, seems to have an interest in science, so I hope to encourage him to take more than the entry level classes.
  3. We embrace the basics.  I might not be able to teach everything, but that doesn't mean I don't teach anything.  Science is a huge subject area, and even if we stay in the shallows, we won't run out of new things to learn.  This is especially true of geology and biology, where lab material is lying right outside our door.  Chemistry is harder (I wouldn't want to accidently blow up the house), and physics is almost impossible (even the Crash Course Physics videos went over our heads).   For chemistry and physics we tend to stick more to what we can read, to overviews, and to "the history of" type studies, which still gives us a lot to cover.
  4. We push ourselves.  We take our classes to the far limits of what we can learn at home, pushing into the math as far as we can, going back learning new math and pushing some more, keeping in mind that there is more to learn if we can master it (here I really am saying we, because at this point, I'm a fellow student, more than a teacher to my teens).
It's still great to be a homeschooler.


Cristy said...

I have enjoyed your series about homeschooling the high school years.

I really stressed about homeschooling science for high school. We have always enjoyed nature studies as a family and the local pundits of homescholling said "you CAN'T do nature study in high school."

So I spent last summer researching options. I found a Great blog that gave detailed information about how she had done science with her (now grown) kids. I have followed it pretty much as written and have LOVED it!

Here is the link https://handbookofnaturestudy.com/?s=High+school

Maybe you will find it interesting or maybe it will help one of your readers.

Akasha said...

I’m really glad to finally see an unschooling blog that still updates regularly and recently.
As for me and my 11 year old daughter, our science is mostly learned in our garden. We aren’t unschoolers, though. Just aspiring.

Ticia said...

I'm going to a homeschool convention to look for a good science curriculum for next year, we'll see what I find.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I was always impressed with how you could teach science at home. I agree with you that community college offers a great way to outsource science to professionals. I am pretty sure that I would have gone with that because I would not want to blow up the house either :)