How We Do Science

When my older girls were smaller, I used to worry that science was a subject that we often overlooked.  As we were just starting our home school journey  and still adding more children to the family, I had enough on my plate just focusing on the 3Rs (Reading, wRiting and, aRithmetic).  The rest were icing on the cake.  We also had a little trouble trying to find the right program so we ended up trying a few each year.  We still learned a lot but we didn’t find one that we wanted to use the next year.  When third child came, I worried more.  This child needed to have science.  He was the first child to ever show interest in it at a very early age.  We had already been doing Sonlight cores then and we really loved them.  So, I decided to give Sonlight Science a try.

Home school curricula usually differ in the way they present material to children. For example, Saxon Math uses the spiral method of introducing topics incrementally.  The first 6 chapters of the Saxon 54 book, for instance, covers the following lessons: simple one-digit addition, skip counting, digits, place value, and subtraction. Building on these basic concepts, the book continues to present related material while ensuring the student retains what he has learned so far by way of review.  So, from the previous lessons the child will progress to multiple digit addition (even addition of money), multiplication as repeated addition or skip counting , rounding off numbers, etc. Repetition and thoroughness are two of the advantages of this methodology.  Variety of lessons is another plus factor.  The student wakes up each morning not knowing what new thing he might learn in math.

However, some students may get lost in the sea of information that is presented to him each day and throughout the weeks.  He might think he knew how to add fractions a few weeks ago but may get stumped when he faces it again after an introduction of more concepts. Can I add fractions with different denominators again just like I can multiply them, he may wonder.  This is when a mastery approach to learning math can be of great benefit.  With a program like Math-U-See, a student only works on one main concept per level.  For instance, ‘Epsilon’, the sixth book in the series, only deals with fractions throughout the text so that when one finishes this level he can really handle fractions.

Sorry, you didn’t misread the title.  This was supposed to be a post about science. Well, what I’ve described above gives the reason why we have taken to the idea of ‘supplementing’.  And we do this for math and science.  Using Sonlight Science exposes the children to a plethora of science topics, experiments, ang biographies of scientists. Going through the first first six levels of the series would definitely introduce your student  to a wide range of material.  Though there is repetition of topics covered in the different levels, the child may just end up always scratching the surface of the concepts.

Inserting the study of the Apologia Elementary books in between our Sonlight Science studies allows the children to delve into certain areas of science resulting in more interest on their part. Since the program uses an  immersion approach, not only are they able to examine a subject matter in more depth, they are also able to remember and appreciate the material more as they explore it further.  Whatever repetition we experience from using both curricula serves to make learning solid. Moreover, written by one who has a passion for science, the Apologia Elementary books are definitely fun to read.

This is how we did it this year:

Our current 4th grader (the third child mentioned above) is about to complete Sonlight Science 3 (now called Science D: Biology, Taxonomy, and Human Anatomy) at the moment.  His younger sister finished Sonlight Science 1 (now called Science B: Animals, Astronomy, and Physics) several weeks ago.   When the latter was studying the planets in her Sonlight program, her brother joined in as we all read from the Apologia Elementary Astronomy text.  And then, when older brother was about to complete his TOPS: Corn and Beans lessons for Sonlight, it was younger sister’s turn to join in.  We followed up these lessons with readings from the Apologia Elementary Botany book as well. Then, whenever a child finishes a Sonlight Science level, he just moves up to the next level until he is prepared for the Apologia high school texts.

If we had been studying about plants the whole year, we would probably not enjoy science as much.  Or, if we just studied science from book to book and topic to topic, it won’t be as interesting as going deeper into a subject matter.



Fourth grader doing his Sonlight Science TOPS experiment several weeks ago:

The same fourth grader checking the newly arrived Sonlight Science 2 (now Science C) books about 3 years ago:

I shouldn’t have been worried.  Now my older girls are learning science all on their own!  We are thankful for people who have produced these materials to make home schooling possible for us allowing us to focus on other important things.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Math K Hurdle | living and learning

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