Homeschool science

Formal study

In first through eighth grade, our curriculum includes the REAL Science Odyssey courses in biology, astronomy, earth and environment, chemistry and physics. These are very hands-on courses, with more time spent on lab and other activities than on learning facts from the textbooks. This is intended to balance the more reading-intensive other subjects in the curriculum, and encourage enjoyment of scientific exploration. Science activities include things like observing tardigrades under a microscope, building an electric motor, and creating star charts of the night sky.

Starting in middle school, we incorporate The Story of Science, a three-volume series about the history of science, into the science curriculum. These, along with plenty of interest-led exploration using science magazines and documentaries, will ensure that your child is well prepared for high school science.

Informal study

The video format is particularly well suited to learning science. Many science topics are best experienced visually, and today the internet offers hundreds of stunning documentaries on topics from human evolution to the exploration of Mars. Videos and online courses are more likely to contain up-to-date information than books. Finally, videos provide a break from reading in what is otherwise a very book-focused curriculum.

Many of the best children's magazines are science-focused, and we highly recommend subscribing to one or more throughout the elementary and middle grades. The priority in early science study is to encourage an interest in learning about the world, and there is nothing like receiving a personally addressed magazine in the mailbox each month to awaken the enthusiasm of most children. Ranger Rick Jr. and Ranger Rick are wonderful for younger children who like reading about animals, and Ask and Muse, which explore a variety of science topics, are excellent choices for upper elementary and middle grade students.

That said, we recommend including books in your child's science curriculum whenever the opportunity presents itself. The Magic School Bus series is a great way to introduce a variety of science topics to lower elementary grade students. Our curriculum also includes several entertaining graphic novel presentations of scientific subjects. Most libraries have well-stocked children's nonfiction shelves, and you should encourage your child to choose these as well as fiction books for independent reading.

Young children should engage in a variety of science-based activities as part of their play. These include planting a garden or terrarium, caring for a pet, and raising butterflies. Many such activities are scheduled as part of the REAL Science Odyssey courses, but you do not need to limit yourself to them.