Tag Archive | science with kids

What about science if I homeschool?

On one of my walks at the end of last year, when dusk was being blown in horizontally with the gales and snow I found a buzzard – in trouble.

At first I thought it was a piece of sacking blown from the farmland onto the barbed wire fence. But the dog was scenting it from a safe distance, making me suspicious and I went to investigate.

Can’t imagine how it happened but it was ensnared by the fleshy part of the wing onto the barbs and had tangled itself round and round until all it could do was hang. Or so I thought, when I tried to help it went for me with its fierce beak and talons.

I feared I was going to make it worse so called a birding friend for help and we rescued it between us by cutting chunks out the wire and letting the vet see if it could be removed from the flesh.

“It’ll have to be put down, I reckon” said my friend. I thought it was likely too. I watched them go with heavy heart. But couldn’t help thinking that the girls would have loved to have seen it.

“Did you get a picture?” my youngest asked. That had not been my priority at the time and I was keeping my eye on those flesh ripping talons.

Having wildlife on their doorstep, our involvement with the natural world and consequently wildlife, was an organic part of our home educating days. And a great way to introduce the sciences into their learning days.

Science can be a subject potential home schoolers feel they’d never be able to tackle. Yet it surrounds us every day whether you live in the countryside or not. There are critters to identify (my youngest now sees more deer in the town than she saw here), natural spaces to visit, plant life to experiment with even if you only have a plant pot on a windowsill. And the most fascinating aspect of science is often their own bodies – a great starting point. You can do experiments in your own kitchen (Google kitchen science) and go online for all kinds of inspiration, clips, resources, (look at this one from the science museum) There are also a number of generous bloggers and groups who share resources and ideas.

So don’t be put off home educating because you think you couldn’t do the science.

One of the most important aspects of science is encouraging a scientific mind and kids already have that in that they question everything and are always asking ‘why’. Parents just need to extend those valuable scientific skills to others like finding out (research), encourage their observation, hypothesising, classification (naming things) analysis, etc. So easy now with the internet. And let them look at and investigate everything however repellent to you it may be! It’s all science in a way.

If I hadn’t investigated the piece of sacking that buzzard would still be hanging lifeless on the fence. But miraculously its wing only had a flesh wound and it made a full recovery in a rescue centre.

The day before new year they brought it back and set it free. My heart soared with it when I watched it go.

Off he goes

The return of a Home Ed moment

I didn’t get out that much as planned, but I did have a little Home Ed moment this weekend!

charleys photo wkend spring14 017My youngest popped back from Uni to do some more photography shoots and I got dragged out onto the marshes as tripod caddy. I say dragged – I love it really, even if the wind was so strong we could hardly stand up let alone keep the tripod still.

Doing this kind of stuff again reinstates the kind of energy and awe you can lose when you think you’ve seen it all before. You won’t have – there’s always new stuff to discover.

I was just as excited – still – by the acres of space and sky and landscape now seen through a photographer’s eyes. Just as excited to try and identify all kinds of bits and bones, and which creature they came from, that were extracted from the owl pellet we found. Excited to investigate the strandline and pounce on the treasures in it. charleys photo wkend spring14 010

Maybe not so excited by the stink of the dead things brought home for further study. But if you want to know about the world you have to explore the world, even the bits we are conditioned to recoil from. They’re sometimes the more interesting for being previously disregarded, but you have to retain an open mind.

Parenting from the point of ‘don’t touch’ or ‘don’t do that you’ll get dirty’ or ‘that’s disgusting, leave it alone’ was never my style.

Obviously some things don’t need to be touched, sometimes you need your children not to get dirty, and they can at times be disgusting!

But too often we stop kids from discovering their world out of habit or convention or saying what we’ve heard others say (our own parents) without thinking.

Most things need exploring and investigating, certainly explaining, however unappealing. How else do we get to understand our world and the things around us? This is the foundation of science, how all great scientists make their discoveries, by wondering about stuff. Messing in it if necessary. Asking questions, trying things out, getting it wrong but understanding it better because of it.

For example the programme Springwatch often investigates ‘signs of life’, poo included, to help us further our understanding of the natural world!

And as another Home Ed friend said to me recently; children are natural scientists, they are inquisitive and curious. We have to encourage that all we can.

When education gives children the chance to do these things, not only does it enhance and develop their learning practises, it also maintains their interest and awe in learning. And it’s that interest and awe, their sense of investigation and excitement about the world and its potential, that keeps their motivation to learn going far more effectively than any academic means. Thus a learning way of life is created that progresses and grows as they do. Education and life become so intermingled it becomes a way of living, living an educative life, just because they love it.

Just like we were doing this weekend.