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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Teaching Science ... Remember HENSA?

H.E.N.S.A. = Home Educators Neglecting Science Activities. A group that was birthed some time ago on the Sonlight Forums, and continues to exist ... HENSA is reflective of many a homeschool. By the time you get Math and Reading and Language Arts and Writing and History out of the way, who has time for Science?! Especially if you also have to make time for piano lessons, and baseball, and flute lessons, and basketball, and ... well, you get the picture.

When my children were in the K-4 or 5 years, I came up with a solution to my HENSA woes that worked out pretty well in our homeschool. Each quarter of our school year (every 9 weeks), we would take a "week off" from all other subjects (except math!) and enjoy a science week. That science week would focus on a single topic ... perhaps weather, or astronomy, or electricity, etc...

As I planned my school year each summer, I would choose four science topics to enjoy for the coming year. I would then make certain to collect anything I needed for each of these weeks as they drew closer. I usually spent some time on-line during the summer, checking for special Science books or supplies that might round out our topical studies. Then a couple weeks prior to each Science week, I would visit our local library to add to our stack of books for study.

Once each Science week arrived, we would pull out our stacks of books and science materials, each student would grab their Science "notebook" (3-ring binder with lined and unlined paper), and we would begin our adventure. This might involve some reading about the topic on their own, some reading that I would do aloud, and any activities or experiments that might relate to the topic at hand. I usually tried to include one or two Science videos related to the topic as well. I would make sure that we wrote down any new Science "words" in their notebooks, being certain they understood what they meant. We also sketched (or you could take photos of) the experiments we tried. These all made for a wonderful Science notebook.

My primary goal was to ignite an excitement in my children for learning about Science. Since I viewed these weeks as being "discovery" oriented, I wasn't terribly concerned about mastery of the material. At a time when our major focus was on learning to read well and establishing the fundamentals of math, this approach to Science was enjoyable for all of us.

So don't obsess about Science ... and proudly wear your HENSA badge year-round, with the exception of four weeks when you enjoy exploring God's creation with your children!




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Luke Holzmann
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