Monday, May 25, 2015

Science: What is "Enough?"

Last year I wrote one post comparing what I had planned at the beginning of the year with what actually happened. This year I'm writing a series of posts on it. Part One was History. This part will cover Science, and how we decided what counted as "enough."

 When we first started homeschooling I planned on following the 4 year science cycle suggested in The Well Trained Mind. This has never actually worked out for us. I did prepare
Thankfully the boys are science sponges. Most of the tv shows they watch teach science principles that they absorb and then talk about. Books that they pick out of the library, free online games, Christmas presents; so many science sources. They draw science, they incorporate it into their imaginative play. They love learning learning about how the world works and ask a ton of questions that require Googling and lead to rabbit holes. Basically I've unschooled science, with the occasional strewing of materials to see if their interest is piqued. I in no way have kept track of everything they've discussed and learned. So how can I say if they've done enough to "graduate" the "school level" I've been labeling them as?

My go-to source is the World Book Typical Course of Study (website link.) I look at their grade level guidelines and ask myself if the kids know enough about those topics to call it good. I'm their mother and their teacher; and the person they verbally unload all this stuff onto. If I'm not sure, I just ask them some questions.

Here are the Science guidelines for 3rd grade:

Petting a snake at the zoo
  • Human body
  • Weather's influences
  • Structure of plants
  • Environment of the local region
  • Biological organization
  • Classification systems
  • The insect world
  • The reptilian world
  • Plants and animals of the past
  • Structure of plants
  • Seeds
  • Ecosystems
  • Balance of nature
  • Weather instruments
  • Climate
  • Cause of seasons
  • Earth and its history
  • Oceans and the hydrosphere
  • Air and water pollution
  • Magnets and electricity
  • Light and color
  • Solar system and the universe
  • Living in space
  • Scientific method and scientific inquiry
We've got most of this covered. The only things that might be missing would be the scientific method and taxonomy. I could probably find a cool poster for each of those, put them up on the wall, and the kids would learn it. They can do general classification of animals, but I don't know if they know the official names and whatnot.

Since they already knew most of this, and it didn't feel like it was enough, I checked the 2nd grade and 1st grade lists, too. Just to make sure there weren't any obvious gaps. Then I checked the 4th grade list, and most of the things this year are the same as the next year, so my worry about making the 4th grade year all about writing and continuing to be causal with science is assuaged. I'm also glad that we do our summer science themes like Learning to Be a Scientist and Space School, based on what is interesting to the boys at the time. This summer will be simple machines/basic physics and we're going to have a friend join us in our investigations!

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