Posted in homeschool

Science and the Secular Homeschooler

Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.

Richard Dawkins

As a secular homeschooler, this is one area that you have to be cautiously pessimistic and do your due diligence. 

When my kids were little one of them wanted to study dinosaurs. I thought, “Sure. It’s first grade, that’s science.”

Nope. Every program out there was written from a creationist stand point. I could have put something together myself, but I had four kids to homeschool that year. There was no time for that. We ended up just reading a lot of books from the library and called it good.

There is probably a whole other post in the reasons that science is so complicated in the homeschool world. 

When kids are older it is even more important to stay diligent. High school students need real science. For one thing some colleges require you to prove that you’ve completed a laboratory science program in high school. 

Even if they don’t ask you for proof your student will need to be familiar with all kinds of scientific methods whether they enter the trades or attend a University.

There are three kinds of science programs marketed to homeschoolers:

  • Mainstream Science: Includes information about how current science views evolution, the age of the Earth, and the age of the universe, including the Big Bang.
  • Creationist: Evolution didn’t happen. All things created by God.

  • Faith Neutral: They omit key information about the age of the Earth (and universe) and evolution.

Keep in mind what you choose may have long lasting affects. Kids may not know what they want to study after they finish homeschooling and if you haven’t exposed them to enough science or math (for that matter) you’ll handicap their future before they make any decisions on their own.

Using the classical method each stage of science requires a different focus. Susan Wise Bauer breaks it down for you here. And if you are already home educating or soon will be her book can be your bible/roadmap from preschool to high school graduation. The best endorsement I can give is that I’ve purchased all four editions over the last 17 ish? years.

We’re planning on creating a curriculum recommendation list soon. We’ll list purely secular programs and those that we’ve tweaked and used ourselves. 

Posted in curriculum choice, homeschool

Put a Ring On It

“I wish I could go in there like Moses and part the waters, and carry everyone to freedom on my ark.” said my friend Nadine.

I laughed and laughed at that. We were chatting about homeschoolers who won’t consider any curriculum that espouses or includes mention of any faith. That is a totally legitimate viewpoint and if it is your line in the sand, have at it. Go you!

Not all secular homeschoolers feel this way. People like to label themselves (despite not wanting to be put in a box, we often put ourselves in one) But why are we afraid to use curriculum as a tool, rather than an identity?

On one hand, it is convenient to slap a label on our “brand” of home education. If you meet at a park day and you introduce yourself as a Lit Based homeschooling family, your new friend won’t expect you to be as happy as she is over her new workbook program. And you know she’ll cringe at the sight of your box day. But aren’t we all lucky to have these choices? That’s part of the reason that most of us educate our kids at home, so that we have these choices in their education.

I’d go out on a limb and say that you might identify with whatever the curriculum company that you bought from tells you that they are. It’s quite a good sales technique and make no mistake, you are purchasing a product.

What they don’t mention is that their plans and books are just that. You can take them apart and use them any way you want to. Ever heard the phrase Every Tool’s a Hammer? I hadn’t until I read Adam Savage’s new book and it got me thinking about how curriculum is a tool, not a methodology.

Adam says things like, “don’t wait until everything is perfect to begin a project, and if you don’t have the exact right tool for a task, just use whatever’s handy.”

His book is about creating a culture of people who know and want to make things- “makers” It’s the same culture we’re in as homeschooling parents. His advice holds true for us all well.

I’d like to ask you to take some time to plan out where you’d like your kids’ education to end up. Do some reading about educational methods and take a good hard look at the kids you have, before you spend money on the latest box of homeschooling goodness. Don’t worry about the religious beliefs of whomever wrote it or is selling it.

We’re planning more posts about curriculum we like, why we like it, how it works, and why we can ignore any faith based elements that may be included in it. We hope you’ll stick around and see what Good Enough Homeschooling looks like for us.