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Encouraging Young Scientists– the Benefits of Learning Science at Home 

by Noel France

Breathing in and out, the fluttering of a butterfly wing, the rising of bread in the oven, or the changing of the seasons – these familiar everyday actions all involve some aspect of science. From the intricacies of cell reproduction to the grandiose universe we reside in, science surrounds us. However, these snapshots of nature and living things may not be the first images to appear when you think about learning science, especially learning science at home. Some people may feel intimidated by scientific jargon, nomenclature, or laboratory experiments, and therefore, hesitant to introduce science curriculums to their children. But, science does not have to be a daunting course for homeschool instruction. In fact, the benefits of a science education, particularly a hands-on homeschool science education, are abounding. Getting the whole family involved in science is a wonderful way to explore the world around you, engage your child’s curiosity, and help to develop higher level thinking skills. Despite any initial hesitation you may experience about learning science at home – it is a critical part of education for any young learner. And, with the help of some new innovative products, science is now easier, safer, and more fun to learn at home.

Science is an integral part of any education – the concepts discovered through scientific exploration provide a deeper understanding of the world we live in and how to best care for the environment and ourselves. Children who are involved in science learn to appreciate the wonders of nature, comprehend the physical laws that govern motion on earth, and strive to be better world citizens. There are also ample opportunities within science instruction to integrate other subject areas. Children can improve their writing skills as they record observations or compose lab reports. Math is used in solving chemical equations as well as various weighing and measuring functions. Even history plays a role in science education, as you and your child can discover the timeline of scientific developments like the medical breakthrough of antibiotics and the invention of the light bulb. Kristi Allen, a homeschool parent in Texas recognized how science quickly became a family favorite – "Once I introduced my children to life science by examining plants and insects from our own backyard, I saw how easily science translated into our other studies. My younger son began measuring the insects and comparing sizes, while my oldest daughter wrote a story about the microscopic world under the swing set. One science lesson provided a week of multiple curriculum tie-ins." As vast and sometimes overwhelming as science education may seem, it can be very accessible and beneficial for the homeschool student. Overall, science encourages children to think deeply, explore their surroundings, and apply other learned concepts for thorough investigation.

Many experts agree that the best way to learn in any environment is through hands-on discovery. Learning by doing is especially important in science. Children are naturally curious and inquisitive - a young child’s favorite word can be "why?" for quite some time. Rather than solely reading texts and testing subject area knowledge, children enjoy seeking out answers themselves. If your child learns through interaction, when s/he is asked to repeat what s/he has learned, you know the aptitude comes from real-life applications and individual discovery, not rote memorization. Experienced science teachers, David L. Haury and Peter Rillero, agree that hands-on learning "encourages questioning of the observed events and the resulting data. Students in a hands-on science program will remember the material better, feel a sense of accomplishment when the task is completed, and be able to transfer that experience more easily to other learning situations. When more than one method of learning is accessed, as in hands-on learning, the information has a better chance of being stored in the memory for useful retrieval."

Fortunately for homeschool families, learning science at home actually allows for more hand-on learning experiences than otherwise afforded in a school classroom. Typically there are fewer students in a home learning environment than a school room, and this allows for more individualized attention, more freedom of curriculum, and more time for interactive lessons. You can easily coordinate activities with the chapters in science texts and incorporate other subject studies. In addition, many hands-on activities can be conducted with materials from your own kitchen or by observing organisms in your backyard. However, there are many lessons that require additional equipment, which at times may seem difficult to locate or expensive to provide for a homeschool family. One company has recognized the unique needs of homeschool families and created products specifically designed for learning science at home.

Since 1862, Ward’s Natural Science has been a leading supplier of science education materials. With a passion for hands-on, scientific investigation and a dedication to excellence, Ward’s serves education with the most extensive selection of science instructional supplies and numerous exclusive products, specifically designed to meet curriculum needs. Now Ward’s has redesigned their innovative instructional materials to specifically serve the needs of homeschool families. Ward’s has made it easy for homeschool educators to introduce science at home. Complex subjects are made easily accessible through comprehensive activity kits, complete with all the necessary materials and instructions. Whether you’re teaching life science, chemistry, earth science, physical science, or mathematics -- from dissecting an owl pellet to creating your own mini-volcano -- Ward’s supplies interactive learning products for every science subject area at every grade and ability level. All the products you need for learning science at home are available from one source, so you don’t need to spend valuable time and money locating each individual product from separate locations. And, all Ward’s exclusive homeschool products are scaled to size for your family – there are no extra materials, so there is no extra cost. Ward’s kits provide only the necessary materials to complete experiments, those which will supplement your own household materials.

Ward’s spokesperson, Sean Hendrick shared his excitement over the new homeschool products. "Ward’s has been serving the science education community for over 143 years. Now we’ve specifically crafted thousands of our products to meet the needs of teaching science at home. Ward’s cares about science education and the specific needs of homeschool families. We’re working for homeschool families to make learning science worry-free and enjoyable for both children and parents!" Ward’s high quality products and activities have been designed especially for homeschool science – bringing the accuracy of a scientific laboratory into the comfort of your own home. Kristi Allen, who uses Ward’s products in her home, spoke highly of their convenience and effectiveness. "I feared that many scientific experiments would be difficult to perform at home with young children, but Ward’s homeschool packs gave me everything I needed for an activity all in one box at an affordable price. The instructions were easy to follow and my children truly enjoyed working on it together."

As expansive as the world of science is, there are multiple ways you can introduce scientific concepts to your homeschool curriculum. Learning together with your child, through interactive discovery, will improve his/her motivation, increase information retention, and help him/her to develop independent thinking skills. You’ll be amazed at how fun it is to explore science at home.

To learn more about Ward’s and their exclusive homeschool products, please visit www.wardshomeschool.com.