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How To Have A Productive Homeschool Science Year

Mother and son working at table

If you follow a traditional school year, right about now, you’re getting into the swing of lessons and activities.

Most homeschooling families will include reading and language arts, handwriting and composition, and mathematics in their everyday lesson plans.

Of course, we want to give our children a well-rounded education, so we include history, science, perhaps a foreign language, and maybe art and music.

For some, science is an exciting and interesting topic, and making time for the subject is easy. Often, our children will be excited and interested in science simply because we are.

But what if you as a home educator shy away from science? How can you include this important subject while keeping your kids interested and also your sanity?

Let’s explore ways to make science an anticipated part of your homeschool adventure, all while taking out the stress and angst that can come from including a topic that may not be your favorite.

Elementary Homeschool Science

science through history box set

Our science courses are designed to create critical thinkers, no matter what level.

This means you aren’t literally teaching science, but instead are introducing concepts and allowing your student to make observations, form opinions, and reach conclusions.

The comprehension questions at the end of each chapter will show you how well they absorbed the information.

With our Science Through HIStory courses, you can present information as slowly or rapidly as your student desires.

Each course includes enough lessons for you to schedule science every other day or twice per week and cover the entire course in a standard school year.

If you have a science fan in your family, you can go even faster!

IMPORTANT: We encourage you to provide a notebook for each student each year to record observations, questions, answers, and to draw, paint, color, or otherwise illustrate the ideas they learn.

For an every-other-day science schedule, let’s say you plan a science lesson on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The elementary lessons should only take a few minutes. You’ll introduce the topic and the hands-on experiment, then allow your student to make observations.

Encourage your homeschooler to add what they’ve learned in their notebook.

The review questions will uncover any areas you may need to explain.

And that’s it! You’ve covered science for the day.

Of course, if your student enjoys the topic and wants to explore more, let them! Offer library books or science videos on the topic, head out for a related field trip, or just sit back and see what activity they design on their own.

Elementary homeschool science can be enjoyable for the whole family when you keep lessons light and spend plenty of time allowing pure observation to build enthusiasm.

Junior High Homeschool Science

earth science textbook cover
earth science textbook cover

As your homeschooler moves into junior high, you can move forward with confidence using our courses designed for them.

One thing you’ll need to stress is good math skills as they progress into more difficult topics. This will prepare your student for higher level science, which of course, requires higher level math.

Typically, you’ll cover one course per year unless your student needs to go at a slower or faster pace. You’ll also provide a clean notebook for each course as a repository for concepts and observations throughout the year.

Since junior high science lessons are a bit more in-depth than earlier courses, you may need to schedule time for science every day, including hands-on experiments.

Experiments can become the highlight of the science lesson since your homeschooler will have an opportunity to see the concept as a concrete activity.

Help your student maintain their enthusiasm for science by allowing them to think critically and make their own observations and connections, building on what they learned in earlier years.

Fun topical books, videos, and activities will make science enjoyable for the whole family.

We also offer online classes and self-paced recorded classes for a customizable science experience.

The review and comprehension questions at the end of each chapter will help you and them know what they’ve grasped and what may still need to be investigated.

High School Homeschool Science

Some homeschool parents get nervous when their student reaches high school and is ready for higher level sciences.

We’re here to help with that!

Continue to stress higher math skills. These are crucial to understanding the concepts taught in biology, chemistry, and physics.

Notebooks will also be quite useful to help your student corral all the information they are receiving during their science lessons.

To cover a high school science course in a year, you may need daily science lessons unless your student grasps a concept quickly and wants to move on.

We provide a thorough science education using labs to prepare your student for college. Many of the materials you’ll have on hand at home. The rest we make available to you in our lab kits.

Chapter review and comprehension questions are critical to helping both you and your high schooler understand what material is clear and what is not.

For students who learn better by listening, we offer audio courses. In addition, we have online courses for those who prefer an in-person science experience.

In your school year, also plan to include additional books, documentaries, field trips, or other learning experiences to help your student make the most of their homeschool science adventure.

Homeschool Science With Berean Builders

We’re confident you and your student will enjoy our science courses. With Dr. Wile’s conversational manner of introducing a topic, the straight-forward experiments offered, and the gentle review questions at the end of each chapter, Berean Builders will help your student become a critical thinker in science, and in life.

And as always, if you have questions or need resources or reassurance, we are more than happy to assist as you and your student explore God’s creation with Berean Builders.

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7 Benefits of Using Notebooking for the Best Science Experience

7 Benefits of Using notebooking for the best science experience

Notebooking may seem like a recent invention for homeschoolers, but did you know natural philosophers and scientists from long ago used notebooks? Just look at Leonardo da Vinci’s wonderful collection of pages he used to capture his thoughts and ideas!

The term notebooking is another way of describing journaling. If you’ve ever written your thoughts down in a blank book or dabbled in scrapbooking, you understand the concept of notebooking.

What notebooking is not: a stack of worksheets in a binder. Busy work may seem like a learning tool, but lessons presented in a boring, rigid format don’t allow for free thinking and creativity.

How does notebooking work as a learning tool?

Just like scrapbooking creates a visual representation of the memories you had of an event, notebooking helps your child organize and process what they’re learning to turn their working knowledge into a concrete, visual representation of what they remember from their lessons.

In addition, science tells us that writing down questions and answers creates synapses in the brain that help learners retain information longer. This hands-on approach makes learning personal and fun.

When should students begin using notebooks for science?

Any student can use a notebook to help them record what they see and experience while learning new concepts in science.

Even elementary students can draw pictures or create designs with pieces of paper and glue, just like scrapbooking.

For those students who think faster than they can write, you can take dictation and record their thoughts on pages they can illustrate.

As students move up through more difficult sciences, they can use their notebooks to help them think through ideas and record their theories and the outcomes of their research and lab experiments.

Our preference is for each child to have their own blank, lined, spiralbound notebook for each of our textbooks. This notebook would be used to record study notes as they’re reading/doing activities, copy any questions asked and their answers (lesson review, comprehension checks, chapter review, and practice problems).

Unstructured notebooks offer plenty of room for your student to draw pictures or diagrams, paste in cutouts, or write their own personal thoughts which will further their understanding of a topic.

A blank notebook allows them the freedom to write as much or as little as they want (or make a drawing as big or as little as they want) rather than being constrained by a preprinted box or number of lines or feeling inadequate because they didn’t use all the space available.

But don’t let us restrict creativity! An artist’s sketchbook, a scrapbook, or any other creative journal can be the perfect repository for your student’s science adventure.

Remember, students don’t have to be creative writers to jot down what they observe. But if sometimes the “blank page syndrome” rears its ugly head, and you prefer a preprinted notebook experience, Berean offers free PDFs you can download and print.

Download (free!) the notebook for any curriculum here or purchase preprinted spiral bound products from our resellers on the Where to Buy page.

The 7 Benefits of Notebooking

Recall

Students who use notebooks for questions, answers, diagrams, sketches, and random thoughts recall more about the topic and remember it longer than students who use worksheets or other passive learning tools.

Critical Thinking

Students can use notebooks as a place to capture out-of-the-box trains of thought when they are investigating a new topic.

Skill Building

Students hone their skills through notebooking. Creative writing, technical writing, capturing their thoughts into words, realistic drawing, and recording observations are all skills that will develop or improve within the pages of a science notebook.

Ownership

Creating a personalized documentary of their progression through a science course complete with their writing and drawing helps students own their learning experience.

Review and Study

Notebooks contain the knowledge your student has gained during the course organized in the way they best understand it. This becomes a valuable tool for review and study.

Holding Tank

When a topic causes your student to think of a random unrelated question, the notebook is there to help them record their query to prevent it from interfering with their current point of study.

Follow Up and Evaluation

You will be able to look through notebooks to gauge your student’s comprehension of covered topics. If there is a clear issue, you can review that topic, or pass on the notebook page to someone else for their opinion.

Bonus Benefit: Memories

Avid notebookers have amassed libraries of their thoughts and sketches. How wonderful for your student to have a collection of everything they’ve learned in homeschool science.

How to get started notebooking

The good news is there’s no one right way to use notebooks in your homeschool. Your kids can write, draw, paste, cut, fold, paint, and color their way through their science lessons. All of this creativity and self-expression leads to learning and understanding.

When your student begins a new science course, provide them with a fresh, clean notebook. You can help them decide how they will keep their notes by offering suggestions, then let them continue with their own ideas.

Encourage them to copy comprehension and review questions from each chapter into their notebooks followed by their answers.

Your student can also use the notebooks to study for the tests at the end of each chapter, or a year-end review if you wish.

These notebooks will document science lessons throughout the years and will not only help for standardized test review but may offer fond recollections of their favorite topics.

Get creative! Maybe your student wants to keep a scrapbook-type binder or create fancy folded mini-books. Whatever helps them learn should be encouraged.

If they have an artistic streak, their drawings may become framed decorations for your walls!

No matter how your student proceeds, you and they will find notebooking to be an outstanding way to learn science.

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3 Benefits of a Historical Approach to Science

science through history box set

If you have multiple children in elementary level studies, good news! Dr. Wile’s elementary science series contains multi-level books you can use for any grade K-6.

Science Through HiStory is elementary science simplified!

And the unique feature of this wonderful course is it uses history as its guide.

Science concepts are presented in the order they were discovered while constantly reminding students of the Creator who fashioned the marvels they are studying.

How We Teach Science: Historical vs. Topical

Most elementary science programs are built around a topical approach to science where students work through a unit focused on one area of science (i.e., weather) before moving to a different topic.

But Berean Builders’ five-volume Science Through HiStory series takes a completely different approach, exploring science through a chronological journey through science.

Students learn science in the order it was discovered by the great scientists of history. As a result, the topics change frequently.

For example, in the first 15 lessons of Science in the Ancient World, students learn about measuring tall things, fire, music, atoms, and medicine. The topics are unified by the people who studied them and the way science was developing at the time.

You may be asking, “Why chronological science?”

3 Reasons to Teach Science Using a Historical Approach

  1. Students learn the enormous debt science owes to Christianity. 

Many unsuspecting students are taught that Christianity has opposed science throughout history. In fact, if it weren’t for Christianity, we wouldn’t have the science we have today. When a

student sees how science developed, this truth becomes obvious.

  1. Students get a more realistic view of how science works.

Science is mostly about making mistakes and then learning from those mistakes. For example, in other curricula, students could be taught a brief synopsis of how the scientific view of the solar system changed over time. In our course, they learn in detail what scientists initially thought and see each major step that produced the modern view of the solar system.

  1. Thanks to frequent review, students have better retention. 

In a historical approach, students continually revisit science topics but in the context of a new person and how he refined an old idea. This narrative method makes science more interesting than a topical approach so children remember the material longer.

For more information about our historical approach to science, see p. 4 of the catalog.

The Eras of Science Through HiStory

science in the beginning book cover

Science in the Beginning uses the Biblical days of creation to introduce a wide range of scientific topics including the nature of light, energy conservation, the properties of air and water, introductory botany, our solar system, basic zoology, and some aspects of human anatomy and physiology.

science in the ancient world book cover

Science in the Ancient World covers the work of the natural philosophers who lived from about 600 BC to the early 1500s AD and presents science as it was developed. The ancient scientists, some who were devout Christians, got a lot right but also missed the mark on certain ideas. We explore these mistakes to advance our understanding of the natural world.

science in the scientific revolution book cover

Science in the Scientific Revolution spends time with natural philosophers from 1543 to the end of the 1600s covering new science concepts as they were discovered. From human anatomy to electricity and the laws of motion, this book shows the scientific thinking of the philosophers who embraced the Christian faith.

science in the age of reason book cover

Science in the Age of Reason sheds light on the discoveries of scientists from the 1600s to the early 1800s. The book covers a wide range of topics being discovered at the time and allows students a peek into the worldview of these pioneers and how that worldview shaped their scientific conclusions.

science in the industrial age book cover

Science in the Industrial Age encompasses the multitude of scientific discoveries that took place during the 1800s and early 1900s. The variety of topics covered includes biology, chemistry, geology, medicine, cell biology, and radiation, and brings to light how the worldview of the scientists affected the conclusions they drew.

Flexible and Engaging Science for Elementary Students

Each of these books can be used as a stand-alone science text and presents plenty of hands-on activities to keep elementary students engaged and curious.

Plus, with three levels of review for the lessons, you can adjust the level of challenge for each individual child. Older students can work with their younger siblings to enrich their science learning experience.

Coordinate Your History and Science Lessons If You Choose

What’s this special approach that no other science program takes? It’s a chronological one.

With this linear approach, it seems a natural fit to synchronize your Berean science to whatever history program you’re using. We have a guide here where you can find detailed notes for meshing these popular history programs with the Science Through HiStory series:

  • Biblioplan
  • Diana Waring
  • My Father’s World
  • The Mystery of History
  • Simply Charlotte Mason
  • Story of the World
  • Tapestry of Grace
  • Veritas

But Should I Synchronize My Science and History Programs?

Yes, aligning your history and science programs may make sense on the surface, but please be forewarned: The process is a bit difficult and not all that beneficial.

First of all, history progressed at a steady pace, but science did not. Science started out slowly and then gained a lot of momentum as the Christian worldview developed. It gained even more momentum as technology developed.

For example, Science in the Ancient World covers about 2,100 years of history. The next book, Science in the Scientific Revolution, covers only 200 years. And the remaining two books, Science in the Age of Reason and Science in the Industrial Age, cover only 100 years each. Science in the Atomic Age (for junior high) also covers only about 100 years.

Your history program’s pace may not match at all!

We think the best thing you can do is cover history and science separately without worrying about matching them up perfectly. When you encounter the same ideas, scientists, or events in a different course, you get a chance to review what was already covered!

Your homeschool is a reflection of you and your family’s needs and goals.

We are delighted to offer this flexible, chronological approach to elementary science you can use in the way that works best for you!

And, as always, we are available to answer your questions about how to get the most out of our courses for your unique homeschool experience.

 

 

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Homeschool Science Labs Made Easy

homeschool science lab

It’s no secret Berean Builders courses prepare your student for university level science.

You’re ready for science at home!

But what about homeschool science labs?

Does the word lab conjure up a large room full of strange equipment and unknown substances?

Does this image make you doubt your ability to give your kids lab experiences equal to public school?

Don’t worry, we have you covered with labs, too.

In fact, Berean Builders science labs are even more real than classroom labs.

Why?

In a rigid school setting, the teacher prepares the labs and offers his or her experience as the students encounter roadblocks as they proceed.

This sounds great right?

Wrong.

If a student is relying on an experienced teacher to think for them, they aren’t thinking for themselves.

And that’s what we’re doing here at Berean Builders…helping students become critical thinkers.

A homeschool student conducting a lab on the kitchen counter doesn’t have the luxury of raising their hand to ask trifling questions.

They really have to think through the problem on their own.

Of course, we’re here for any insurmountable difficulties!

But what we really want is for your student to think about the problem and come to their own conclusions before escalating their questions.

And, since they are not restricted by a set classroom time, they can keep playing with the experiment until it works.

This is actual science, not spoon-fed predictions and outcomes.

Your student can work on their own to find flaws in their processes.

Plus, they’ll have the opportunity to do their own troubleshooting.

Frustrating for them?

Maybe.

But your homeschool science will have better labs for their efforts.

Your children can enjoy having figured it out on their own.

College Prep For Science Labs

Another wonderful result of experiencing labs at home is that your student will be better prepared for college labs.

In Dr. Wile’s opinion, the best of his university science students were homeschool grads!

These students were better at thinking through issues in labs and didn’t need handholding to accomplish the day’s goals.

Fortunately for you, the associated equipment for today’s labs is much more readily available, much better, and much more affordable.

You also have a new realm of experiments available.

You are now able to recreate public school labs right at home.

With non-toxic chemicals and first-class equipment that you can access affordably, your homeschool labs will be equal to the “real” labs you may remember.

And your students will benefit from university level science labs along with the first-rate science courses from Berean Builders.

Take a look at some of the extensive lab kits we have available to accompany our science courses:

Lab Kit for Discovering Design with Earth Science

Lab Kit for Discovering Design with Chemistry

Dissection Lab Kit for Discovering Design with Biology

Microscope Lab Kit for Discovering Design with Biology

You can feel confident offering a college-prep science education in your homeschool along with thorough labs to build your creative thinker.

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How Berean Builders Prepares Homeschoolers For College Science

homeschool students in college science lab

When your homeschool graduate gets to college, will they be ready for science?

How can you be sure?

Most of us remember science classes and labs in school. The smells, the jars and bottles of strange and wonderful substances and all those instruments! Plus mounds of new and exciting information.

Our teachers guided us through the systems and methods of high school science and lab work, and some of us took that to college where we realized…

We didn’t really know all that much about post-secondary science OR labs.

Our professors had to toss in some remedial instruction so we could succeed without blowing up the chemistry lab or cross-contaminating our petri dishes in the biology lab.

Not to mention the basic stuff we should have brought with us from high school.

And honestly, the last thing a college professor wants to do is fill in the blanks left by a high school teacher, no matter how talented that teacher was.

If you remember those days, or if you are concerned that you can’t possibly prepare your homeschooler for science in college, we’re here for you.

One of the most common homeschool parent worries is how to be sure their student is ready for college. And it’s a legitimate worry.

However, if you are presenting science courses from Berean Builders at home, your homeschooler is already getting college-prep science training.

How Can Your Homeschool Student Receive College Prep Science At Home?

First of all, Dr. Wile is a university professor.

He already knows the skills your student needs to be successful in college-level science.

Not only can Dr. Wile pass on this knowledge through the detailed material and extensive labs included in each Berean Builders science course, but he also helps students hone their critical thinking skills.

Critical thinking is vital, not only in science but in other subjects, as well as life after college.

Secondly, high school science is intended to give students a solid knowledge base on which they can build once they reach college.

This knowledge base is imperative.

In Dr. Wile’s words,

“You can’t stop to Google every time you have a problem.”

Some facts and processes need to be readily available in the quick access section of a student’s memory.

Berean Builders science courses build that base.

Your homeschool graduate will have the body of knowledge in their head that a university professor expects them to know.

So how do the science courses from Berean Builders prepare students for college?

The method behind our science courses combines comprehension checks throughout each lesson with reviews and knowledge tests at the end.

The reviews and tests help your student understand the facts presented, and the comprehension checks train your student how to think like a scientist.

These checks and reviews are balanced to help your student gain the facts they need and the thinking skills to apply them.

Why does this matter?

In order for your student to get the most out of college-level science courses and their associated labs, they can’t have facts at the exclusion of thinking skills, and vice versa.

Rote memorization may result in good grades in high school, but facts without critical thinking skills won’t help them advance in higher learning.

Conversely, thinking skills without facts won’t help them much either. Remember the Google comment above?

With Berean Builders, you can be confident you’ve provided your homeschool student the same level of instruction they would receive from high school college prep courses…if not better.

After all, they’ll be getting their high school education from a university professor. Which means your homeschool students will already be learning science skills at a college prep level.

University Professor On Standby

Not only that, Dr. Wile is easily accessible if your student has questions.

He’s only an email away, and he is eager to help his science students comprehend the concepts he presents in the courses.

Berean Builders brings science to your homeschool with professional labs designed to be conducted right at home.

To be sure your homeschool graduate has a well-rounded science education, include Berean Builders science courses in your planning for next year.

We’re here to help you determine the best sequence to present science subjects, and we’re looking forward to working with you as you help your student get ready for college and life beyond.

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Which Science Course Should I Choose?

which science course should I choose

When planning out your homeschool year, you want to include engaging science information to help your student understand our amazing world.

But which course should you choose? And in which order should you use the available courses?

The good news: you can pick any one for elementary grades!

Since elementary years are all about becoming proficient in reading, writing, and math, your student will spend a lot of time practicing these skills.

We want to make science fun while helping your student learn to observe, record, and marvel at the universe around them.

Which is why you can begin your elementary homeschool science adventure with any one of these engaging courses.

We even make it easy by letting you know what concepts your student should already know when beginning a course.

If they need to know a bit more about a topic than the course offers, a quick online search will fill in the gap.

 

Let’s examine the sequence of the science courses offered.

Although the courses explore scientific developments chronologically, you may choose to present them in any order depending on your other homeschool subjects or the time period that interests your student.

For Students in K-6 Grades

Science in the Beginning

You can start with this course to give your student a solid foundation of how our world was created.

Using the days of creation as an outline, the material covers basic concepts such as

  • the properties of light, air, and water,
  • basic botany, zoology, and human physiology,
  • and our solar system.

This examination of how the world began helps students understand the beauty of the Creator and the wonder of His works.

 

Science in the Ancient World

Follow the Beginning with a look at how ancient scientists explored God’s creation to learn more about the Creator.

Covering the years 600 BC to 1500 AD, this course covers the work of these naturalists and philosophers, both the concepts they got right and the mistakes they made.

Since this course examines early science as it was developed, your student will discover a wide range of new ideas including

  • early medicine,
  • basic physics and simple machines,
  • the Earth’s place in the solar system,
  • astronomy,
  • botany,
  • and the effects of erosion.

As they are introduced to the science and the men who furthered fresh ideas, your student will also come to understand the later scientists for the devout Christians they were.

 

Science in the Scientific Revolution

Expand on the fresh scientific ideas from the ancients with the next book in the series.

The time covered in this course is less than 200 years, and the advances made in the basic areas of science were vast.

Also covering science as it was developed, the topics included echo those in Science in the Ancient World, but on a deeper level.

Your student will increase their understanding of

  • astronomy,
  • the physiology of plants, animals, and human anatomy,
  • basic physics,
  • and the scientific laws developed during this time.

The scientists who investigated the world around them from 1543 to the end of the 1600s were pioneers and curious about the world around them. They were also men of God interested in learning more about the Creator and His creations.

 

Science in the Age of Reason

Continuing the tour through the history of scientific development, this next course explores natural philosophers from the early 1600s to the early 1800s as they built on previous discoveries to further their understanding of the world around them.

Topics include

  • astronomy,
  • basic chemistry and physics concepts,
  • human physiology, botany and zoology,
  • and atmosphere and weather.

Not only will your student see how new science discoveries begin with older ideas, but they will also understand how the worldview of the scientist can affect their conclusions.

 

Science in the Industrial Age

The final book in the elementary science series covers discoveries made from the early 1800s to the early 1900s.

As scientists continued to explore the world, they made a multitude of new discoveries and advancements.

Your student can follow these discoveries in

  • medicine and human physiology,
  • basic physics and chemistry,
  • evolution,
  • and explore the development of new scientific laws.

They will also learn the beliefs of the scientists and how those worldviews directed their theories and conclusions.

A Well Rounded Tour of Elementary Science

These five courses follow science through history and demonstrate the growth of scientific discovery and understanding.

Each course includes many hours of hands-on activities to keep the lessons engaging for elementary students, plus three levels of review exercises so you can choose the depth of understanding you wish for your student.

An added benefit of these five courses is they are multi-level.

This means even if you are diving into homeschooling in the later elementary years, you can choose any course to begin your scientific journey.

In addition, you can teach several ages/grade levels using the same course by assisting younger children with the experiments or using the more thorough review exercises for older students.

Middle School Science for Students in 7th and 8th grades

When your student is headed into the middle grades, you may wonder which courses to choose next.

The most important factor in deciding on a course is your student’s level in mathematics.

Since the courses offer problems involving calculations, you’ll want to be sure your student comprehends that math level before you dive into a course to assure their success.

In addition to observing and recording their experiences, your student will be asked to learn and apply specific concepts, both in the abstract and in the concrete with hands-on experimentation.

 

Science in the Atomic Age

Science in the Atomic Age

Modern scientists have furthered our understanding of the world around us, and this course covers these discoveries.

From atoms to biomes, this course covers the organization of our world and God’s design in nature.

Your student will need a firm grasp of 7th grade math to do the calculations presented.

Because this is a laboratory-based course, your student will have plenty of hands-on experiments and activities to help them grasp the concepts presented.

The topics build on what the student has already learned in earlier science studies, and the experiments can be performed using common household items easily found in local shops or online.

Discovering Design with Earth Science TextbookDiscovering Design with Earth Science

This course explores earth in great detail from the formation of rocks to the properties of water and the interaction of each on our earth’s crust.

Your student will be able to exercise critical thinking as they are presented with the opposing ideas of uniformitarianism and catastrophism.

Each of these concepts is presented in a fair and balanced examination with plenty of follow-up questions to generate thoughtful contemplation.

This course also includes 55 hours of laboratory instruction using hands-on activities and experiments.

A kit containing laboratory materials is available for purchase, and some of the experiments can only be performed with items from the kit.

 

As you can see, these seven courses cover science from creation to modern day exploration.

You and your student can decide which of the elementary topics to cover and in which order.

And your middle schooler can move confidently into more complicated science when they have the math proficiency to do so.

We hope this helps simplify your homeschool science curriculum choice!

We’re available to answer any questions and to help your student explore God’s world through hands-on science.

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Parents Should Definitely Consider Using Audiobooks While Homeschooling Their Kids

It is quite surprising to know that many parents, who homeschool their kids, are of the view that audiobooks or listening to a book isn’t really beneficial for their kids, especially in comparison to silent reading. There is no evidence in support of this argument. As a matter of fact, audiobooks are considered beneficial for all listeners, especially for those kids who struggle with reading books. In this blog, our aim is to help parents understand that there is no harm in using audiobooks. They will only help your kid learn better. We have listed some benefits of audiobooks. Let’s take a look at them.
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Mistakes Parents Should Avoid When Homeschooling Their Kids

With each passing year, increasing number of parents are deciding to homeschool their kids. Usually, there are two groups of parents when it comes to homeschooling. The first group of parents are excited to teach their kids in the comfort of their home and spend time with them. The other group of parents feel nervous and worried as to whether they will be able to teach their kids properly. In either case, parents want to make sure that they do not make any mistakes while homeschooling their beloved kids.

In this blog, we will share with you some common mistakes that parents tend to make. Try your best to steer clear of the below-mentioned mistakes when homeschooling your kid.

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How to Motivate Your Child When Homeschooling? 4 Tips

When you homeschool your child, you watch them learn and grow. You know how your child processes new information. You develop an understanding of your child’s learning style. And it is pure bliss to see your child expand their pool of knowledge. But, at-home schooling comes with a few challenges that parents have to navigate.

Does your child spend more time in front of the television than with their books? Are they lagging in their high school science course sequence? Whatever may be the problem responsible for those unproductive days, lack of motivation is usually at the core of most of them.

Continue reading How to Motivate Your Child When Homeschooling? 4 Tips

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Homeschool Conventions: A Guide For Attendees

No matter how long you have been homeschooling, or if you’re brand new to home education, you should attend an annual in-person homeschool convention this year.

Family at a homeschool convention
Dr. Wile with some users of his textbooks at the Peoria Area Association of Christian Homeschoolers 2019 convention

Are you a homeschooling parent or interested in one day making the jump into home education? The decision to educate your children at home is not new. Parents today are seeking a more personalized learning approach for their children.

Homeschooling is quickly gaining a large following due to the freedom and flexibility it provides both parents and their children. 

What is the best way to learn more about homeschooling?

The best way to learn more about home education is to attend a homeschool convention. 

This guide will help you pick the best convention for your family. Plus, you’ll get some help with getting the most out of your experience. Using this guide, you can achieve the goal of a successful and rewarding homeschooling convention trip.Couple talking to author at a homeschool convention

Attending an in-person homeschool convention is like earning an unofficial “crash course in home education” certificate.

To renew this unofficial certification, attend each year to keep your knowledge of laws, requirements, and the latest curriculum! You will learn much from attending whether you’re a new homeschooler or a veteran.

First Things First: Research Conventions In Your Area

Do a little research. Read over what conventions are offered in your area.  The state you reside in may have one or more homeschool organizations which offer annual events.  There are also conventions put on by groups specializing in multiple conventions across the country.

Take a look at the list of speakers and workshops to see if the topics seem interesting. Do any of the session summaries tackle your burning questions?

Once you determine which convention is your best fit, buy your tickets. Make hotel reservations and travel arrangements if needed. 

Most home educators benefit from a general homeschool convention, preferably in their home state.

A state-sponsored convention will keep you updated on current state laws about homeschooling. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to meet new homeschooling families from your area.

Budgeting Both Time and Money at the Convention

Conventions cost extra money and time. You may need to set aside an entire weekend to attend. Hotel reservations, travel, and dining out can be expensive.

In this world of streaming entertainment and one-day shipping, is it worth it to use your valuable time away from home? 

The short answer is yes.

You will have greater success as a home educator if you carve out enough time to attend a convention in person.

Remember, most businesses provide training to their employees.

If you treat the responsibility of educating your children as a career, you will need some instruction and camaraderie as well! 

Investing in your training is easy to overlook as a homeschool parent, but neglecting your education leads to Burnout City. You don’t want to end up discouraged and frustrated living there with your children! 

Scholarships and Volunteer Opportunities

For many families, money is a struggle, but there are many ways to attend a homeschool convention without paying a cent!

If money is a concern, including a convention in your budget may seem out of reach. Yet, the discounts and further education you receive make the experience worth the expense. 

There are attendance scholarships available for parents who need further help to homeschool their children. Another option? Volunteer a few hours at most conventions.

State organizations often offer discounts or free attendance if you are a member of the organization.

There’s So  Much Information At A Homeschool Convention! What Should Be My Focus?

homeschool convention exhibit hall
South Carolina Homeschool Convention 2021 courtesy of Great Homeschool Conventions

An essential list of your state’s homeschool guidelines can determine what you will need for each child for your school year.

This is the most valuable piece of information to keep in mind as you prepare for the homeschool convention.

The required courses will provide structure around which you can plan the rest of your student’s studies.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed By Comparing Yourself To Others

In the words of a wise homeschooling mom, keep your eyes on your own homeschool.

Don’t try to keep up with the homeschooling Joneses.

Grab some paper and begin by brainstorming. Describe your ideal homeschool day. 

Remember, no two families are alike. In the same way, no homeschool will look precisely like yours.

Using a clean piece of paper for each child, list the subjects they will be studying next year with curriculum ideas. It’s time to take some notes while you learn about your kids and their preferences.

Study Your Children Before Attending A Homeschool Convention

Time to watch your students.

What motivates them?

Look at their favorite subjects and books. Are they colorful? Is the text easy to read and visually stimulating? Ask your kids! You know they have an opinion, so use their honesty to benefit your research.

Why is their favorite subject their absolute favorite? If you are willing to ask, be ready to completely change your mind if necessary if you learn something new about your child. It won’t be the first time your child teaches you something new. 

After talking with your students, go back to your papers and then to the internet for research. 

Is there a curriculum that presents your student’s least favorite subject information in a manner similar to their favorite topic? Write down your findings.

The more you educate yourself on your students’ needs, the more effective a home educator you will be.

Open-minded and curious teachers create lifelong learners. 

I Found A Great Curriculum, But I Want To Look At It In Person

Is there a curriculum choice that you keep returning to online but were hesitant to purchase because you couldn’t interact with the curriculum before deciding?

When you get to the convention, make visiting these booths a priority. 

The perfect way to decide which curriculum will benefit your students the most is by holding it in real life.

  • Look through the table of contents.
  • Check the topics covered in the book. Are the illustrations engaging or distracting?
  • Did the publisher leave enough visual white space for your child to process the information presented?

These questions may seem trivial, but all play a vital role in the curriculum’s usability for your student.

The greatest reward of a well-planned convention trip is a smooth sailing school year.

If you were online, you would probably stick to your original plan. A slight deviation from your plan and discovery as you shop for listed items is an excellent balance.

In-Person Conventions: Better By Far Than Virtual

 

While it may be more convenient to seek online assistance, using the internet as a general research tool before attending an in-person convention will be a much better use of your time than trying to answer all your homeschool questions online. 

Save some time. Take your questions to the convention and seek out the people that can quickly clarify your questions and help you plan your best school year yet! 

It’s hard for most people to feel the friendliness and solidarity of an in-person convention behind a computer screen.

Dr. Jay L. Wile at Homeschoolers of Wyoming convention in 2014
Dr. Jay L. Wile at Homeschoolers of Wyoming convention in 2014

Face-to-face interaction levels the playing field between you, the homeschool consumer, and them, the homeschool suppliers and experts.

Virtual interaction can be highly one-sided as it unintentionally positions the speaker to appear superior to the audience due to the limitations of a virtual teaching platform. 

This vertical approach limits the engagement between the speaker and the listener. Also, the mind wanders or can get caught up in the inevitable distractions no matter how entertaining the speaker may be!

There is less wiggle room to bounce ideas around or ask a speaker questions virtually with time delays, technology glitches, and presentation-focused instruction. 

Dr. Wile’s Opinion Of In-Person Conventions

Dr. Wile speaks passionately about the importance of in-person conventions.

As a scientist, he understands the value collaboration plays in reaching a deeper understanding of any topic. Meeting real people in person makes your home education journey so rich.

Group picture of kids and the author of their science textbooks
Dr. Wile with students at the South Carolina Homeschool Convention in 2015

It seems obvious, but with the online world connecting us so well virtually, we often forget the tremendous benefit of face-to-face interaction. 

The Value of Organic In-Person Conversations 

The conversation is not organic online. Tone and inflection are challenging to interpret via the world wide web.

Dr. Wile believes spontaneous conversations between families, vendors, and students are the most valuable part of any homeschool conference.

Dr. Jay L. Wile and Inge Auerbacher
Dr. Jay L. Wile and Inge Auerbacher, holocaust survivor,  at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in 2015

“You meet the most interesting people face-to-face.” Dr. Jay Wile

These horizontal conversations offer excellent opportunities for the student interactions he’s enjoyed over the years. Conversations outside the online classroom are enriching for both instructors and students alike.

Often, these interactions uncover an interest or fresh idea the student has that the instructor would not have known without this in-person exchange.

Conversations overheard around café tables often reward the new homeschooler with golden nuggets of information from veteran homeschoolers.

These opportunities are the perfect time to ask questions and get answers real-time. Remember, networking is a two-way street.

In-Person Conventions Can Foster Lasting Friendships

Do you want to meet other homeschool mothers? Online conventions are not the best place to foster lasting local friendships.

While online support bridges the gap during the long school year for home educators, relying primarily upon it year-round is not ideal.

Use the yearly in-person homeschooling convention to make local connections for your family.

While you’re there, ask about local co-ops and regular gatherings.

If you have homeschool acquaintances, attend the convention together for even more direct support.

Making the Most of Speakers and Classes At A Homeschool Convention

There will be descriptions in the program guide next to every seminar, session, workshop, demonstration, or class offered during the homeschooling convention.

Take advantage of these experts and gather the information you need from the learning opportunities available.

However, be flexible. You will not be able to attend all the exciting sessions because there are simply not enough hours in the day, nor duplicates of you.

Prioritize The Sessions You Most Want To Attend

Then, attend the sessions you have prioritized.

Things to remember:

  • Focus on keynote speakers and anything of serious interest to you.
  • Build your schedule around the speakers that are the best fit for your needs.
  • Ask yourself: Which sessions do you think will foster the most interaction between speaker and listener?
  • Think about the speakers you would most enjoy having a conversation with. 
Homeschool speaker
Special needs speaker at the Indiana Association of Home Educators 2018 Convention

If you and a friend want to attend similar sessions and workshops, divide and conquer. Attend separate sessions, then trade notes at the end of the day.

And remember, most sessions are recorded and will be available for purchase. You can listen at your leisure after the convention, but you won’t have the advantage of in-person follow-up questions.

If there is any speaker you want to interact with, make a point to go to their session.

Even if they do not open the floor up for questions, often they will remain at the front for those wishing to continue the conversation.

If they must hurry back to their vendor booth, follow them! (At an appropriate distance, no stalking.)

When they are available at their booth, ask your burning questions. They will be excited that you attended their session and want to chat more.

Convention Sessions Or Vendor Hall?

Also, be willing to walk away from a session if you need more vendor hall time. The hall will be less crowded during daytime speaking engagements.

If you need quiet time to think and shop:

  1. Use this time and purchase the mp3 recordings of the sessions to listen to at your convenience at home.
  2. Use this precious time to speak with vendors about your concerns and questions.
  3. Give yourself time to learn, digest information, and make informed decisions.

Lighten Up At Night

The nightly entertainment is light on information but heavy on entertaining!

The convention reserves one night as a mom’s night out, and the other night is a family fun night.

Both nights are equally enjoyable. The nightly entertainment is usually an additional cost, but it is worth the price to relax at the end of a day chock full of information and learning.

Let your mind rest, sit back, laugh, and relax.

Mom’s night out can be the first or second official night of the convention.

The most inspirational of the keynote speakers will deliver a message directed at homeschooling or motherhood.

Sometimes chocolate is involved, but there is no guarantee every convention will have chocolate. Bring your own if necessary.

You will most assuredly find laughter, encouragement, and time to visit with other homeschooling mothers. Take the time to strike up a conversation with another mom. 

Finding A Community Of Likeminded Friends At A Homeschool Convention

Finding a community of friends is essential at every stage of our lives, and the season of homeschooling our children is no different.

It is always better to have others walking alongside you.

What you haven’t discovered in your never-ending pursuit of the perfect curriculum, another mother might have discovered.

But keep it in perspective. There is no perfect curriculum.

There are always more beneficial choices and less helpful choices based on your student’s learning style.

Women who attend these “extra cost” break-out sessions to meet friends and hang with the girls always come back laughing!

The other night of the convention will be a night to bring the kids or bring the whole family.

All ages will enjoy a comedian who keeps you in stitches with good clean humor.

Other conventions will feature a children’s storyteller. No matter what your literary preference, these talented performers will astound you. You will be on the edge of your seat, captivated by their fascinating tales.

Some conventions open the stage up to family talent as well. The amount of hidden talent in the audience at a homeschool convention is impressive. Bring your talented family, or come ready to enjoy the talent of other newfound family friends! 

Bringing The Kids To A Homeschool Convention

If your children travel to the convention with you, they will have a fabulous time.

There are programs for children, teens, and some have childcare available.

If you have babies, they are welcome as long as they are not disruptive.

But there is no need to fret; these parents know the challenge you face.

  • Smile and look around.
  • Get your babies settled.
  • Have your items organized during the session in case you need to make a quick escape.  
  • Rest assured, most of the moms there have been exactly where you are now.

Children’s Programs At Homeschool Conventions

The volunteers and convention staff organize the children’s program to run like a well-oiled machine.

Vacation Bible School-style learning units will fill your elementary student’s day as you take care of needed planning.

Teens are encouraged to volunteer to help out during the convention if there is no set program for them.

Assisting at the convention is beneficial to both your student and the convention. These service hours can be logged as volunteer hours for their transcript!

If you have a child with special needs, choosing a large convention will give you the option of assistance during set times of the convention. You can attend sessions or shop knowing that your children are cared for by well-trained volunteers.

Remembering Why You Homeschool

 

A refreshed mindset will allow you to approach your school time with renewed energy and perspective.

Attending a convention gives home educators the confidence to approach another year without fear.

They find continued excitement planning the year ahead.

Some years are plain hard, and it is difficult to cross the finish line at the end of the school year.

A weekend away will benefit your children’s future education and bring you headfirst into an exciting adventure of learning together with your children!

You should take the time to attend a conference if your plans for the next year include homeschooling your children.

Bring a flexible attitude, a smile, a friend, and something to carry your purchases- rolling is best.

It will be great to see you there in person.