I grew up in public school and overall had an amazing experience. But there was one thing in my science classes, most of the hands-on science experiences were limited and only offered after “all the learning” had happened.
So when I became a teacher, that was one of the management strategies I used. I put off hands-on science until after the lesson. It was the reward.
That is my biggest regret from public school teaching.
I went on to teach in the college classroom and the lab and lecture are taught separately. After meeting a lot of resistance from colleagues and students over student-centered teaching methods I decided to keep with the status quo.
Patterns are called patterns for a reason
When I started homeschooling my own kids, it became pretty apparent that the status quo wasn’t going to meet their needs. Let’s just be honest. If it were, then they would’ve gone to public school.
I deeply believe in public education and teachers. I’ve met too many amazing educators to ignore the positive impact they have had on my own life and countless others.
But my kids with their invisible differences were falling through the cracks. It wasn’t unexpected. I began to question putting them into public school as toddlers, but I didn’t change.
I kept on the same path.
Here is the thing. All of that experience, regret, and knowledge about science education and my own kids didn’t change my pattern. As the kids aged from the ta-da phase of science instruction to the deeper content. I regressed back to “book learning” and then hands-on.
It was the disaster you can predict. Imagine the frown lines, tears, and more than a few times where there were raised voices.
I was at a loss. I had left my full-time job to homeschool my kids and I called my husband more than once with tears about how I was failing them and we were going to have to do something else.
The hardest part of failure in your homeschool is worrying about how this is impacting the long-term relationship with your child. It wasn’t going well.
My lightbulb moment
Then I started working more on my blog and spending a lot of time reflecting and had my own ta-da moment. My kids are right-brain thinkers.
What does that mean? Right-brain thinkers thrive in a hands-on environment and need rich experiences to help activate connections to their language centers. They need to see and feel first and THEN get the context to make it all make sense.
So I started switching things around. We did experiments first, recorded things on video, and spent time DOING science.
The results blew me away. When we focused on the doing FIRST, the explanations stuck. The kids were excited about science time and rushed to the table -even the toddler could be heard repeating, “Science Time”.
And that weight in my chest about whether I was failing them or ruining our relationship, began to lift. For the first time in a long time, we were happy to be learning together.
Hands-On Science Leads to Deeper Learning
That one simple shift in my mindset has begun to make the dominoes all fall into place and our days are easier and richer than ever before. My kids know that I can help them in science.
The best part? We’ve been able to add other subjects to our science lessons. Hands-on science was our gateway.
We talk about history, analyze texts, evaluate evidence and connect evidence with our explanations, use math to both diagram our own results and interpret the results of others.
My kids are learning.
Looking for some ideas to get started with a hands-on approach?