Children love science. They are naturally curious and want to know how the world works, and science (when done well) opens up an entire world of possibilities to them.
There are two very simple ways you can support your child’s science education while they are home. First, you can ask and answer questions, and second, you can reinforce science through stories. Whether your child is 5, 12, or 17, these two simple things can do a lot of good.
Here’s Becky Holland, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Barney Charter School Initiative and a former science teacher, with some tips for keeping your child’s science education going at home.
For Younger Children
If you have little ones, you know that they are constantly asking why. but these are the perfect questions to encourage a love of science in your children. As children start to understand different concepts, their eyes are opened to the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Capitalize on their wonder!
During the day, take your child on a nature walk. Explore your yard, local park, or neighborhood with an eye for scientific lessons. Bring a bag for collections as well as a notebook, and you will be armed to help your child discover the natural world.
Create different challenges for your younger children, such as picking three different leaves that came from different trees, or choose a category such as “things that need sunlight to grow.” If you see organisms you cannot take with you, have your child draw a picture. Talk about the seasons, and ask your child questions about what they are seeing.
When you get back to your home, review your collections and pictures and practice categorizing them into groups.
For Older Children
Much like with younger children, keep encouraging your older children to ask questions and pursue their interests. In particular, ask your child to help you cook meals or treats and use the experience as a science lesson.
Put your child in charge of measurements and conversions, and ask them about the chemical and physical reactions occurring in your recipe. Cater the level of difficulty to your child’s age.
Challenge your high schoolers to pick a new baking recipe that they have never tried and predict the outcome based on the ingredients. For example, does a recipe call for baking powder or baking soda? What is the difference? Which ingredient produces which chemical change? If your child modified the recipe, what would the new outcome be?
Another way to get your child involved with science on a practical level is to give them a project around the house. If you keep a running to-do list, give your child one of the items and ask them to use the scientific method to come up with a solution. For example, if you have a patch of grass in your yard that will not grow, why might that be? What do plants need to grow? Are there any surrounding causes? Has it rained recently? If your child’s solution is feasible, encourage them to complete the project themselves.
You may have some science books already laying around your house— if so, use them as read-a-louds, or encourage your older children to read on their own.
After reading a book, help your younger children build models from household objects to make the stories come alive, especially if the books are about something they cannot visualize on their own, like atoms or the galaxy.
For particular recommendations, consider