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Find out about homeschool science experiments from this great resource called Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers. I was recently able to interview the author Susan Kilbride. This interview will give you an insight into the book and some background on why it was written.
My review and some free units with homeschool science experiments are at the bottom of this page.
Here is the interview:
What is your curriculum and what makes it different from a traditional curriculum package?
I’m not sure that you’d really call it a curriculum, though it does cover a lot of what you would need for an elementary science education. I taught my own son science using the unit study method and this book covers most of the science elementary school units that I worked on with him.
What types of learning styles does your book cater to?
When we started homeschooling, one of my goals was to teach my son a love of learning. The traditional public school methods often make learning boring, such as making kids memorize a lot of dates in a history book, without really conveying the interesting stories behind the history. I wanted more than that for my son; I wanted him to be engaged and excited about the learning process. I found that the unit study method worked very well for that, plus I had a lot of fun discovering new ideas and ways of getting information across to him. So Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers is geared toward the unit study method, but it could also be used to supplement any other method or curriculum a parent might be using.
How much parental involvement is needed when using your book or completing these homeschool science experiments?
It is designed for the parent to be the teacher, so there is quite a bit of parental involvement that way. What it does for parents is saves them a lot of time researching and planning a unit study. That can take hours of work, so this book saves quite a bit of time for parents. That was one of the main reasons I ended up writing this book; I had so many homeschooling friends who wanted to do unit studies but just didn’t have the time or inclination to do the research required. Plus, science was intimidating for some of them, so I wrote the book assuming that the parents reading it didn’t have a scientific background. I tried to write it in a way that anyone could pick up the book and teach their children science.
The book came out last August, so it’s been almost a year. I started writing it mostly to record my unit studies, not really planning on turning it into a book. Then I realized that parents might find it useful, so I got more serious about it and started a homeschooling science class so that I could test some of the homeschool science experiments again in a classroom setting. I found that sometimes an experiment that had worked great when I did it with my son didn’t always work the second time around! It’s been a pet peeve of mine that so many homeschool science experiments in science books don’t work; sometimes it seems like the authors never tried them out beforehand. All of the homeschool science experiments in my book are ones that I did with my son, and most of them I tried again in my science class. I spent a year testing the book in the class and the whole thing took about two years to write, not counting all of the time I’d spent researching the units the first time I taught them to my son. Of course, I wasn’t doing this full-time; I did have a son to homeschool!
Is there a certain order I should follow when deciding which chapters and homeschool science experiments to use when?
The chapters or units are in sequence, written to build on each other. However, that is not set in stone, and it is possible to jump around in the book. I would suggest that parents make sure that the children understand the information in the first ten units before starting the second ten. The first ten units are for ages 3-7 and the second ten are for ages 8-13. Doing the units in sequence is probably more important in the second half of the book, but again, parents can look at the book and decide for themselves.
How many lessons are in the book?
The book has a total of twenty units, ten for ages 3-7 and ten for ages 8-13. Each unit takes approximately 3-5 hours to complete. I would not recommend trying to finish a unit in one day. It is better to spread them out over a few days or even a few weeks.
On average, how long does it take to complete the lessons for the day?
The units aren’t set-out in a day-to-day schedule. When I used them in my science class, we met once-a-week for an hour and we would get through about a quarter of a unit in an hour. When I did them with my son, we might spend one to two hours at a time on them, depending on our schedule. I wouldn’t recommend spending more than two hours in one sitting on any of the units. Spread them out a little and spend extra time on the activities that your children enjoy the most.
Any advice for new homeschoolers?
Wow! Someone wants my advice! I’d say the most important thing is to not stress out about what you have or haven’t accomplished. We’ve been programmed to believe that the type of learning we get in schools is the only and best way to learn, but there are as many methods of homeschooling out there as there are homeschoolers, so explore a little and figure out what works best for your family. You don’t even have to use one method for all of your subjects. For example, I used unit studies to teach my son science and history, and I purchased a math curriculum to teach him math, which basically he does all by himself without much input from me.
Also, don’t worry if you finish your lessons in just a couple of hours, that’s one of the beauties of homeschooling; it takes about half the time to get the same amount of learning done as schools take.
You will find you have lots of extra free-time to spend enjoying your children. I had a homeschooling friend who when asked why she homeschooled said: “I do this because I love being with my kids.” She died of cancer a year after I heard her say that. You never know how long your time will be with your children. Try and enjoy every minute of it.
You can visit Susan’s new website at www.funtasticunitstudies.com or take a look at the book Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers. You can view my review of this unit study homeschool resource and get some links to free units of this book provided by the author.
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