In answering an email this morning, I really got to thinking about the purpose of elementary science. I'm fully convinced that the goal in elementary science, as well as many other subjects in elementary school is to provide a joyous experience in learning. It's not to attempt to fill their heads with a bunch of information that we expect them to retain through high school and college. Frankly, how much do you remember from elementary school? Probably very little. And that which you do remember was probably taught in an environment where you enjoyed learning, your teacher enjoyed and cared about you, and you most likely got your hands on it - built or created something.
The problem with American high school students is they don't care about learning. It's not that the information is too hard, or the teachers aren't adequate to teach. It's a problem that can't be fixed with better curriculum. The kids have learnt to detest learning by high school; so, they cram for tests and retain nothing, leaving for college with very little knowledge or understanding on any subject.
Homeschoolers are succeeding NOT because they are forcing science terminology down their children's throats earlier. They are succeeding because homeschoolers like to learn.
I worry a bit about the new homeschool generation. Some of us are trying to produce geniuses in the hopes of showing the world and our families how brilliant our children are (and what great teachers we are) by enforcing long arduous school days, filled with tedious activities designed to give a strong academic foundation. My fear is that these children will turn out just like American high schoolers, detesting learning, detesting school and burnt out.
The strength of homeschooling lies in providing a warm, rich learning environment for our children. Make science and every other subject a wonderful learning experience. Use materials that create a thirst for more, and excitement to get to the "fun" subjects (the same subjects that American high schoolers hate because they were forced to memorize dull facts from boring books). Make learning fun. Create in your children a love for learning. This will go a lot further in providing a strong foundation than quizzes, worksheets and extensive assignments in elementary school.
Besides learning to read, the goal of elementary education is to develop a joyous learning environment. When these same children enter high school, where the material is much more intensive and they are getting grades that go on their transcript, they will have the benefit of a great attitude and confidence in the subject because of their positive experiences with school.