To combine or not - that is the homeschool science question! In this podcast episode, we are going to discuss the two factors you need to consider when deciding whether or not to combine for science.
Welcome to season 5 of the Tips for Homeschool Science Show where we are breaking down the lofty ideals of teaching science into building blocks you can use in your homeschool.
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As homeschoolers, we run a one-room schoolhouse. Typically, we have more than one grade-level and can be spread thin. Often, we seek to combine or do subjects as a family as much as possible.
And so, I am frequently asked if a particular homeschooling family should combine for science or not, and if so, how to combine their students. The answer to this can be as unique as your family, but here are few guidelines when deciding if combing for science will work for your crew.
There are two key factors to consider before you decide to combine for science. These are the age of your students and their age gap.
The first thing you want to consider when deciding whether or not to combine for science is the age of your students. If your kiddos are in the preschool and elementary years, combining for science will most likely not create a problem in the future. But as they get older, it can become an issue. Remember that each stage needs to be learning about science at a deeper level.
For example, high schoolers are working towards getting enough credits (and getting the right credits) to graduate and they need to be learning at that level. You might be able to combine two high schoolers, but it is not a good idea to combine a high schooler with a middle school or an elementary student. Either the needs of the high schooler won’t be meant, or the younger students will be left in the dust.
Then, there are your middle schoolers - we recommend hitting at least biology, chemistry, and physics once before you get to high school. This may or may not fit with the needs of your elementary student, making it hard to combine.
There are several programs on the market that will allow you to easily combine K through 5th grade. You will have to tailor the writing expectations, but if your students are all elementary-aged, you can consider combining them for science.
The second thing you want to consider is the age gap, or spread, between your students. Your students may be close in age or spread way apart and this can affect whether or not combining for science is a good idea.
For instance, if you have a 4th grader and a kindergartner, technically these two students are both in the elementary years. However, their intellect and abilities are vastly different. The 4th grader can most likely read and write on his or her own quite well. The kindergartner is probably still working on learning to read and can struggle with the mechanics of writing. Plus, the information that they can comprehend will be at various levels, making it difficult for them to learn out of the same text.
We have an eight-year age gap between our two kiddos - combining was never a luxury we could explore! But if your kids are two years or less apart, you can consider combining them for science.
In short, if your students are younger or you have a small age gap, combining for science can be a good option for you. If not, I encourage you to consider using multiple science programs. Since your older students can begin to work independently it’s not as hard as you would think to “teach” two science programs - one you will teach to your younger students, and the other you will help to guide your older students through.
In the end, the decision to combine or not is up to you. You know your students and your unique situation far better than we do. After all, the best science curriculum in the world does nothing for your students if it sits on the shelf and doesn’t get done.
If you truly cannot make room to teach or guide two science programs, then combine. It’s not ideal if you have a big age gap or if your students are older, but actually doing science together is far superior to not doing it at all.
So I trust that by now you have a better idea of whether you should combine for science or not. Here are a few helpful links for you to consider as you plan for science:
Next week, we are going to chat about whether you really have to do experiments for science. Until then, I hope you have a great week playing with science!
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