How can you encourage a love of homeschool science, and meet the academic requirements set out by state regulations?
Firstly you need to understand how the science curriculum is basically set out. This information will get you started.
Charlotte Mason Homeschool Science
Charlotte Mason wanted children to be given the skills of the scholars, starting simply yet with intention. Charlotte Mason’s homeschool science ideas on teaching are perfect for home education especially in the early primary years. Not only are her methods enjoyable, creative and academically sound, they are also extremely suitable for accomplishing the state requirements many of us are expected to follow.
For those of you who want to follow the Charlotte Mason approach for teaching science you may wish to ask – how does the Charlotte Mason method of doing science compare with the Australian Science Curriculum’s three strands of science?
- in developing the scientific skills through observation (and recording those through notebooking and journaling),
- understanding science was taught through using science based literature and nature study,
- science as a human endeavour was taught through studying biographies of scientists learning about their inventions, discoveries and life .
The Charlotte Mason method for teaching science uses an immersion approach for teaching science.
Charlotte Mason believed in using a living book approach to teaching science with lots of observation: Her ideas included lots of:
- stories about nature and scientists,
- science conversations – stimulated by wonder and observation in all the disciplines
- nature study and nature journaling.
The Australian Curriculum uses a spiral approach to teaching science, teaching a little bit of:
- earth and space science—each year.
These are different methods but essentially the content is the same. If you understand this basic difference to teaching science you can look at the Australian Curriculum in a new way. You can see that the main conflict with the Australian Curriculum and the Charlotte Mason method is one of sequencing when to teach content and not what content to teach.
To marry these two curriculum approaches you can cover all the major areas of science but you can do a different science specialty each year for four years (immersion method) rather than doing all four subjects every year for four years (spiral approach).
You will find most homeschool science textbooks use an immersion approach to teaching science.
Conversation Science Lessons
“He must be accustomed to ask why — Why does the wind blow? Why does the river flow? Why is a leaf-bud sticky? And do not hurry to answer his questions for him; let him think his difficulties out so far as his small experience will carry him” (Charlotte Mason Series Volume 1, p. 264).
Asking them to explain what they see is the beginning of forming a framework of reporting findings. Not all lessons need to have an attached worksheet to prove they learnt something. When a child makes a revelation through observation this is a worthy outcome. Enjoy it with them!
“One of the secrets of the educator is to present nothing as stale knowledge, but to put himself in the position of the child, and wonder and admire with him.” (Charlotte Mason Series Volume 1, p. 54).
When you answer their questions give your answers with as much “life” as you can.
Choose Books Not Textbooks.
“Above all, when you come to the rescue, let it not be in the ‘cut and dried’ formula of some miserable little text-book; let him have all the insight available, and you will find that on many scientific questions the child may be brought at once to the level of modern thought” (Charlotte Mason Series Volume 1, p. 264).
Some of the pre-digested science content offered to young children in textbooks is too much, too soon, too random or too boring. The wonder of science is taken from their lessons and it’s been stripped down into lesson objectives with complicated or oversimplified ideas.
Books dealing with Science…should be of a literary character, and we would probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the text books. Where science does not teach a child to wonder and admire, it is perhaps of no educational value.
Secular Science Curriculum For Homeschool
The main difference that you will find in a Christian science homeschool curriculum is the reference to evolution as a theory rather than a fact. This spills over into intelligent design, dates for fossils and dinosaurs. The facts are all the same, it’s just the interpretation of the facts – the worldview is different. Many non-Christians still find the Apologia resources good and the parents present the alternative view.
I am not aware of any secular Australian curriculum that homeschoolers use for science. But you can easily keep your curriculum secular using Charlotte Mason’s teaching methods of living books, narration, notebooking and nature study.
It’s all about the books that you choose and getting your children to read good quality literature. If you want a secular science textbook here are some American secular resources:
Science and Nature Living Books
Science biographies, stories of inventors and living books that help children put science in its context. These suggestions can be read aloud or used independently for the more confident reader. We have also made some suggestions for some literature based high school homeschool curriculum.
Australian Curriculum and Homeschool Science
The Australian Curriculum divides science into three strands.
1. Science Understanding
- Living World: biology: botany, zoology, anatomy
- Earth and Space Science: Environmental Science, Geology and Astronomy
- Physical World: Physics
- Chemical World: Chemistry
Evolution and Creation
The Australian Curriculum for Science teaches from a evolutionary point of view. Biblical creation ideas are not taught in the Australian Curriculum and evolution is taught as fact. Many Christian parents choose to introduce creation science books as well into their curriculum. Teaching your children about the secular and Biblical worldview from an early age will help them understand why some books seem to support evolution and others do not.
2. Science Skills
This brings to mind experiments, chemicals, analytical thinking, microscopes and scientific research. All these topics are a part of science and when your children are young you can begin introducing these topics to them in a very natural and enjoyable way. Including:
- Question and observe and make predictions
- Plan experiments and make collect data
- Analyse and evaluate data
- Communicate in a scientific way.
3. Science as a Human Endeavour
Science biographies illustrate the influence great men have had on science through human endeavour. They also demonstrate the development of science inquiry skills as observation, questioning, planning, processing and evaluating are used in real life examples.
- Study scientists and how their knowledge has developed over time.
- How science affects people’s lives and the way they work.
Registration Tips For Science & The Charlotte Mason Method
For Science, you need to tell the assessor you will be working through the entire science curriculum over the years. Since Science is only 6 -10% of the primary curriculum so it is easy to cover. It is 20% of the high school curriculum.
You will need to demonstrate that you cover all the major areas of science. Biology, Earth Science, Space Science, Physics and Chemistry.
Science Planning Ideas
- Remember that you will be teaching in all areas of the science curriculum, you are just using an immersion approach.
- Nature Study is more than biology. It’s also ecology and geography. When you read nature stories, it’s also English.
- Make yourself a YouTube channel with some chemistry and science videos. They can watch these on rainy days or when your sick. These can also help meet the curriculum.
- Learn to make science a part of your conversation.
- Familiarise yourself with the basic content of the Australian Curriculum.
More Science Articles
My Homeschool Curriculum
If you are looking for a curriculum that has already worked out all the planning for you then My Homeschool Graded Courses might be for you!
In short, it follows follows state and territory syllabus requirements while using a literature rich approach inspired by Charlotte Mason.