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  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stella M View Post
    Real world work seem to be becoming a big part of ds' education ( secular, eclectic, not super duper academic but good enough )

    He's an assistant drama teacher once a week, he hosts and moderates on a gaming server thingy most days and he fundraises for animal charities.

    As long as we get daily maths and English/reading in there, and hit science and history a couple of times a week, plus PE and social time, I feel like we're adding in enough 'academics' to round out his education.

    The most valuable parts of his education still come from his real world stuff and books. I'm looking forward to seeing what he explores during his teen years.
    I love the shoes! Please tell me they are yours!

    It sounds like he is learning a lot between his job, gaming server, and volunteer work. Sean also has a job. He works for a group that teaches computer coding to grade school aged children. I too consider that a major component of his education.

    That is the beauty of eclectic academic homeschooling it is loose, handcrafted for the individual, and can emphasize whatever works best for that student.
    Blair Lee loves to read, cook, laugh, hang out with friends, and homeschool. In 2015, she co-founded Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschoolers blog and SEA Homeschoolers on Facebook. Blair writes for the Real Science Odyssey Series, RSO, as well as blogs and magazines. Blair speaks about eclectic, academic homeschooling, science, and travel at homeschool conventions. You can follow her at blairleeblog, Twitter, Facebook, and Katch.

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  3. #32

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    Well, you mentioned science, and teaching chemistry....

    I have a 6.5 year old who is going on year two of a super intense chemistry obsession. He's got molymod kits and test tubes, plays with pHet simulations, looks stuff up on the dynamic periodic table, and has memorized nearly every video the Periodic Table of Videos has ever made. He can tell you about types of radioactive decay, why certain acids are stronger than others, explosives, reactivity, etc... Basically, he's got lots of high school level chemistry concepts, but he's a first grader, and can't read, and can't do algebra either (though he's quite good at math for his age, and is fine with the scientific notation in half lives and such). What do you do with a kid like this?

    Just wondering if you have any clever ideas about new ways to learn chemistry specifically, or just ideas in general for science-loving kids that are so hopelessly asynchronous that no curriculum for any age group is ever going to work.

  4. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by mckittre View Post

    Just wondering if you have any clever ideas about new ways to learn chemistry specifically, or just ideas in general for science-loving kids that are so hopelessly asynchronous that no curriculum for any age group is ever going to work.
    So much this! My son is so into science and engineering it isn't even funny. His math is good, but not at the level he needs for some of the physics classes he wants to take. He gets the concepts, but the math still eludes him. I can't keep up with him in this area at all. He is into electronics, computer programming, engineering, physics, and subjects like that. He is working on building his own robot at the moment. It is a constant race to see if I can find something to engage him with before he finishes the current project!

  5. #34

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    When my son was 5-6ish, he was also super obsessed with learning about space. Finding exoplanets, different kinds of black holes, properties of various types of stars.... he went through all the generally available videos on it.
    I told him he couldnt learn more until he could do physics. And couldnt do physics until he learned how to do algebra. And couldnt learn algebra until he could do arithmetic. And part of the physics meant he needed to know some chemistry, and some biology.
    And of course, he had to learn to read before he could do those things.
    I dont think education is so much fueling unilateral interest in one topic (for a 6 year old especially) as it is giving a general understanding of the world. Thats one of the complaints about people throwing Bible into everything, isnt it?
    My son still likes astronomy, but Im not feeling compelled to provide him with constant entertainment and learning on that topic.
    Id tell my kids in this situation that they can keep whatever as their hobby, but before they can learn more, they need to study these other things.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by squares View Post
    I'd love to hear more about this - examples, more thoughts.
    Let me start by sharing an excellent scholarly article on this topic titled, “Teaching for Understanding.” I read it for the first time recently, loved it, and realized many educators were thinking the same about this.

    ASTC - Education Resources

    The sections in quotes are from an article I wrote and a talk I give called Learning Science.

    “Recently I volunteered at the Intel international science and education fair, ISEF. It is a huge international fair. They consider it a science talent search with thousands of high school students across the globe competing for a total of about $4 million in prize money. I always enjoy myself immensely at these gatherings because it's the only time that I get to sit around with a bunch of scientists and talk science. At lunch time I happened to sit down with 6 female scientists, 3 of whom were or had been high school science teachers, 1 was a community college teacher who taught people how to teach science, and the other 2 were part of the education department at a nearby aquarium. We all got to talking about what we did or had done. Of course it came to homeschooling science when they wanted to know what I did. It was very interesting. You might think this group would not be proponents of homeschooling. I did. You and I would be wrong. These women had been to many science fairs as volunteers and with their students. What they saw again and again were that increasingly often the best science fair projects were from homeschool students. I was told that more often than not, the homeschooled kids are the ones who win the science fairs. I was curious to find out why they thought homeschooled kids were doing a superior job learning and experimenting with science. They said to me that the problem is when traditional schools begin teaching science. According to them science is being taught later and later in schools. That's because of the current state with education because of testing and how schools get funding. Schools pour time and money into language arts and math, because if test scores are low in those areas a school’s funding is cut.

    Teachers focus their energy and resources on math and language arts to the detriment of science. If kids are lucky enough to get science before high school it is as a component of language arts, it isn't science for the sake of science. Now this touches on several things that I want to talk about in a minute. But when science is a component of language arts, it's about reading science. It's not about doing science and there's a big difference. It's why a lot of adults think science is boring. What happens when you don't start science until high school is that you have students who come into high school science who are weak in science, and the science teachers have to start teaching at a much more basic level than they were teaching in years past.”

    I encountered this situation myself while tutoring a friend’s son in middle school biology. My friend’s son was at a local public middle school in California. After initial success in his biology class and despite studying hard, he was failing biology. The first thing I do when I start tutoring someone is to go back to the beginning of the material they are responsible for and work forward until I find a “hole”, a problem. I liken this process to taking a fine-toothed comb through long hair to find a tangle.

    One of the early sections of the text they were using discussed the polarity of water and why that was important to life. The boy I was tutoring could not wrap his head around or understand this concept. When I asked if he understood atomic structure and how atoms bond, he did not know what I was talking about. When I contacted the teacher, who was an English major not a science major, I was told that chemistry was taught the year following biology, and that none of the students in her class were taught the basic underlying science principles needed to understand this concept. It was accepted and understood that students would just memorize the facts surrounding the relationship between water, its polar nature, and its importance to living organisms. I was shocked by this. You can memorize the facts surrounding this relationship, but without an understanding of the underlying principles it is impossible to actually understand the relationship. I actually took out my chemistry text and taught him from that. Once he understood the basics of atomic structure, chemical reactions, and bonding he was able to understand the polar nature of water. The next major hurdle for him was understanding photosynthesis. Once again a lack of knowledge of the foundational fundamentals of chemistry led to an inability to understand process involved in photosynthesis. I had to be creative with teaching him these. There are only so many hours in the day and he had all his other coursework as well as my tutoring sessions. Getting creative teaching him photosynthesis is how I came to write my photosynthesis lab. It really bothers me when concepts that could be so simple if people just understood the foundational fundamentals are treated as complicated and requiring an advanced degree to understand. The issue often isn’t the complexity of the concept. It is that people do not know understand 5 of the 10 basics needed to understand the concept.

    “On the face of it, it might sound like spending an entire year every four years on a single subject creates artificial boundaries between science disciplines. While it is important that the material you use to teach points out and makes connections between the different disciplines, the best approach is to learn the fundamentals of each discipline and make connections once the basics are understood. This creates a cohesive body of knowledge which enhances a student’s ability to make connections between the disciplines.

    Often science is learned with a grab bag approach, which I call the smattering approach. When I told the gals at the Intel ISEF fair that I was not a fan of the smattering approach they said that in the past they would have agreed with me, but that now the state of science being taught is in such a shabby state they would even like it if people went back to the smattering approach. It turns out that the smattering approach for learning science is better than not learning it at all. So I guess if it's between the smattering approach and nothing at all, the smattering approach is oaky to use. Otherwise, any good science teacher will tell you you're better off teaching science as a single subject, just as we do every other academic discipline that we care about our children learning.

    This really goes back to teaching the foundational fundamentals. You start to build on concepts, creating a firm foundation, adding more and more complicated material on top of it. Anybody who has worked with their child in math knows exactly what I'm talking about. There is no other subject that we take seriously that we do not teach as a single subject. There is a reason for that.”

    The lack of understanding of the basic foundational fundamentals by many people has led to a lack of understanding about some important issues that affect our lives. The two that come immediately to mind are climate change and nutrition. The basic science principles surrounding the situation with climate change are not complicated or well understood by most people. This has led to a politicization of an issue that is having profound effects for our planet. In order to understand this issue an understanding of some basic principles of chemistry, physics, applied math, and biology are needed. The basic science principles surrounding nutrition are also not well understood by most people. To understand the basic science of nutrition people need to understand how good scientific studies are conducted and how cells use molecules from food for processes needed for life.

    When I taught college chemistry, I began each semester spending a week teaching the applied math needed for their science classes. This meant that I used one week of my science class and teaching math. This was important because it cut the failure rate by 50 to 75% of what it was without teaching the math. I was teaching students the basic principles, some foundational fundamental math concepts, the students needed to understand in order to succeed at science. Many of the students had learned how to work these types of problems in their math classes. But I don't believe they understood these concepts at their most basic level. Actually I worked with the students, and I'm sure they didn't. Success in a math class requires memorizing techniques for solving problems. Success in a science class requires applying those techniques in a much deeper and nuanced way. If you are wondering about the concept that most students struggle with, it was dimensional analysis. Students did not understand basic concept of how units in math relate to physical quantities.
    Blair Lee loves to read, cook, laugh, hang out with friends, and homeschool. In 2015, she co-founded Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschoolers blog and SEA Homeschoolers on Facebook. Blair writes for the Real Science Odyssey Series, RSO, as well as blogs and magazines. Blair speaks about eclectic, academic homeschooling, science, and travel at homeschool conventions. You can follow her at blairleeblog, Twitter, Facebook, and Katch.

  7. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by mckittre View Post
    Well, you mentioned science, and teaching chemistry....

    I have a 6.5 year old who is going on year two of a super intense chemistry obsession. He's got molymod kits and test tubes, plays with pHet simulations, looks stuff up on the dynamic periodic table, and has memorized nearly every video the Periodic Table of Videos has ever made. He can tell you about types of radioactive decay, why certain acids are stronger than others, explosives, reactivity, etc... Basically, he's got lots of high school level chemistry concepts, but he's a first grader, and can't read, and can't do algebra either (though he's quite good at math for his age, and is fine with the scientific notation in half lives and such). What do you do with a kid like this?

    Just wondering if you have any clever ideas about new ways to learn chemistry specifically, or just ideas in general for science-loving kids that are so hopelessly asynchronous that no curriculum for any age group is ever going to work.
    "What do you do with a kid like that?" Do a happy dance! Lucky you!

    I have a few thoughts too, but really LUCKY YOU!
    1. He is 6.5. At his age I would go with it and see where it takes him. When he is ready to learn his multiplication tables, get a good comprehensive year-long course. Start at the beginning and have him work through it. Let him know that it is important he understands all the basics too. I like to remind Sean of one of my favorite quotes when he feels he knows it all, ""It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." John Wooden. You should expect him to go very quickly through this material, which is great. Just take your time though and add lots of high end experiments and extra readings to increase the breadth covered.

    2. Take the time now to really focus on the scientific method. Here is a link to an article I just wrote on this topic. The Scientific Method: Defined, Applied, Understood, Learned | Pandia Press, History and Science Curriculums. With someone as young as your son, I would make sure he understands on a deeply intuitive level through repeated application how this method enhances knowledge and affects understandings in science.

    3. I expect his writing skills are not at the same level as his science understanding. Be his secretary right now and help him organize his thoughts through writing (you do the writing for him), as he tells you his hypothesis, observations, and results and conclusions.

    4. Discuss at dinner or family time the analytic and new insights coming out of his work with science.

    5. When his writing skills catch up with his science, make sure he can write nonfiction. Most good science programs in college look for students who can write well.

    6. Get a subscription to an age appropriate science periodical and share what you learn with him.

    And take the time to make sure he understands the basics of atomic structure.
    Blair Lee loves to read, cook, laugh, hang out with friends, and homeschool. In 2015, she co-founded Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschoolers blog and SEA Homeschoolers on Facebook. Blair writes for the Real Science Odyssey Series, RSO, as well as blogs and magazines. Blair speaks about eclectic, academic homeschooling, science, and travel at homeschool conventions. You can follow her at blairleeblog, Twitter, Facebook, and Katch.

  8. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by kmath View Post
    So much this! My son is so into science and engineering it isn't even funny. His math is good, but not at the level he needs for some of the physics classes he wants to take. He gets the concepts, but the math still eludes him. I can't keep up with him in this area at all. He is into electronics, computer programming, engineering, physics, and subjects like that. He is working on building his own robot at the moment. It is a constant race to see if I can find something to engage him with before he finishes the current project!
    How old is your son? There are some good high school level and college level applied math materials? I can think of one that could easily be used by a motivated middle schooler. It can be hard to find good applied math. It really is quite specific what you need for science. It could be that he thinks many of the math concepts he is learning do not have applications to what he is interested in, so he isn't motivated to learn them.
    Blair Lee loves to read, cook, laugh, hang out with friends, and homeschool. In 2015, she co-founded Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschoolers blog and SEA Homeschoolers on Facebook. Blair writes for the Real Science Odyssey Series, RSO, as well as blogs and magazines. Blair speaks about eclectic, academic homeschooling, science, and travel at homeschool conventions. You can follow her at blairleeblog, Twitter, Facebook, and Katch.

  9. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    When my son was 5-6ish, he was also super obsessed with learning about space. Finding exoplanets, different kinds of black holes, properties of various types of stars.... he went through all the generally available videos on it.
    I told him he couldnt learn more until he could do physics. And couldnt do physics until he learned how to do algebra. And couldnt learn algebra until he could do arithmetic. And part of the physics meant he needed to know some chemistry, and some biology.
    And of course, he had to learn to read before he could do those things.
    I dont think education is so much fueling unilateral interest in one topic (for a 6 year old especially) as it is giving a general understanding of the world. Thats one of the complaints about people throwing Bible into everything, isnt it?
    My son still likes astronomy, but Im not feeling compelled to provide him with constant entertainment and learning on that topic.
    Id tell my kids in this situation that they can keep whatever as their hobby, but before they can learn more, they need to study these other things.
    Math has been the biggest thing I have had to put my foot down with Sean about over the years. I am glad I did, but OH the fighting for a couple of years surrounding that one subject.

    I find it a balance these days between letting Sean follow his passions and sticking with the basics. He will be 16 this month, and some of his passions are worth pursuing! Even if they are not what I would consider a traditional path. What I often do is to figure out a way to make one or more of the basics a core part of a passion. For example, this year Sean needs to focus on rhetoric and expository writing. I am using essays he writes for his LOL what I call The Homeschool History Project, the grandiose name I chose for a class with one student! This is his American government/year of politics/election project. I am also using this class for computer science. He is designing a website for this project. I am counting this one class as history + writing + computer science + 1/2 his lit grade + community service project. It gives him time to pursue this passion, while taking care he learns basic 10th grade level skills.
    Last edited by Blair Lee; 11-04-2015 at 07:01 PM. Reason: typo
    Blair Lee loves to read, cook, laugh, hang out with friends, and homeschool. In 2015, she co-founded Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers, SEA Homeschoolers blog and SEA Homeschoolers on Facebook. Blair writes for the Real Science Odyssey Series, RSO, as well as blogs and magazines. Blair speaks about eclectic, academic homeschooling, science, and travel at homeschool conventions. You can follow her at blairleeblog, Twitter, Facebook, and Katch.

  10. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blair Lee View Post
    How old is your son? There are some good high school level and college level applied math materials? I can think of one that could easily be used by a motivated middle schooler. It can be hard to find good applied math. It really is quite specific what you need for science. It could be that he thinks many of the math concepts he is learning do not have applications to what he is interested in, so he isn't motivated to learn them.
    He is 10. He likes math, but it definitely isn't his strong suit. I do think he finds it not applicable to what he wants to learn and getting him to see that math is VERY necessary for his fields of study can be difficult.

  11. #40

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    Thanks, Blair, for your response about the foundations of science and its lack in school. I read it closely.

    As an aside, I was chagrined by your example of the polarity of water. I did not know about this property, which I can see is a very basic and important one . Fortunately, I had all of the chemistry background necessary to understand it in a few sentences when I looked it up. And I can see its application to biology. I have my 7th grade science teacher to thank for all the background information I needed.

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