Mention science and most homeschool moms shudder. If you told me six years ago I would be teaching a homeschool science class – I would have laughed in your face and then fainted on the spot.
For some reason “science” terrifies us! But I survived teaching my first science class, and you CAN teach a homeschool science class!
You CAN Teach a Homeschool SCIENCE CLASS
This past year my 5th grade son participated in a homeschool co-op, done by a “real” science teacher. The type of guy who has published books and a NASA certificate to handle moon rocks. Yea, I kid you not.
After the winter break my son no longer attended his class and I had a big pile of science to teach myself.
There is something special about science labs, experiments, and fun to be had in a group setting. Yet I couldn’t find another science “class” in my town.
So I created my own science class!
I contacted a few moms I knew who had the same age children and asked what they were doing for science. The response was unanimous – nothing! With little ones taking up new seats at their homeschool table, the older children were not doing any “book” science.
I offered to teach their children along with my own using Apologia curriculum. Not only have we used Apologia for many years, I knew I couldn’t screw it up! Because let’s be honest – that’s our fear! We are terrified we’re going to get it wrong, blow it up, kill something, and look stupid trying.
You CAN Teach a Homeschool SCIENCE CLASS
I set up a weekly time for class and asked for a one-time small fee for each student for supplies. Looking back it was too small. I went way over budget!
As a class of 5 students, we worked through majority of my Land Animals book. I did not ask the students to buy their own, so I had a lot of reading and key points to highlight.
The kids had a great time. Of course I took a few extra steps and prepared weekly paper work even though I refused to grade papers. The kids enjoyed some projects and I purchased a few kits and supplies for hands-on fun. My friends continually thanked me, and I started to see this as a ministry to them.
- Be realistic with the size of your house and how many children you can have there comfortably. I have a very small house and only six chairs fit around our dinner table.
- Be realistic with the age of the students you want to teach. I purposefully only invited 4th and 5th graders. Even though we all have other children younger and older – I wanted everyone to be able to keep up.
- Be realistic with what you want to accomplish. Once I started printing and sending home work I expected it to come back completed. When it didn’t come back finished I felt put out. I shouldn’t have felt that way because early on I stated “no grades” and the work was optional. But it was my time and printer ink. I realized, you can’t get emotional or take it personally!
- Do not spend a lot of time reading to them. Once I saw blank stares and confused looks I realized we had to get to the hands-on stuff quickly. That’s what they wanted and it was far more educational than hearing me drag on like Charlie Brown’s mom.
- Plan “fun stuff” too. I rewarded the class one morning with donuts because everyone wrote a short story about an animal. To be honest one student was more stoked about donuts than the bugs we identified later.
- Set an start time and an ending date. This isn’t a playdate this is science class. I greeted the kids at the door because I didn’t want to pry them from my son’s Lego collection to get started. I worked up until their parents came.
- Ask for supply fees. It might feel awkward but owl pellets, bugs, colored pencils, sketch pads, binders, donuts, and printer ink cost money.
- Plan ahead and be prepared. I spent a few too many times hunting for paint brushes and magnifying glasses I should have had ready.
Together the class had a great time. I am so excited about all the fun stuff they learned!
- created land animals with modeling clay
- dissected owl pellets when we studied rodents
- identified real bugs – using bug set
- painted water-colored snail shells
- hopped like kangaroos
- hunted for M&Ms while learning about natural selection
- wrote short stories about different animals
- learned about Alaska and grizzly bears
- learned about Florida and panthers per square mile
- filled out animal classification worksheets
- found different land animals in the bible
- studied a famous zoologist
- made animal teeth crafts
- conducted a jello food coloring smell experiment
- sketched different animal tracks
- learned a ton of vocabulary words
One of the “cool” things about teaching this science class. Before I was just their mom’s friend. Now when they see me at church they wave really big and shout, “Hi Mrs. Layton”.
The science class gave me enough confidence to teach a homeschool bible study at church. Another great experience! As much as the classes have been filling a need for homeschool students – they fill me up too!
You CAN teach a homeschool science class – what’s holding you back?
Stef Layton is a homeschool mom to two energetic boys. She believes in hands-on interest-led learning. Married to a busy traveling golf course architect, they have taken their homeschool on the road. Stef is the Author of Educating Laytons and numerous brick building ebooks, Creative Counsel for The Titus 2:1 Conference, and Creator of The Homeschool Village. Stef is a regular contributing writer for The Homeschool Scientist.