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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Science in the Early Years

My father was a geologist who owned an oil company. When I was a child, he would take my brothers and me to the lease. I was always fascinated by the tall derrick that drilled miles and miles into the ground to tap into an ocean of oil deep under the earth. I would stand in complete awe, wishing I could fully understand what was happening, hungering for knowledge.
 
When I got bored of watching the roughnecks work the machinery, I would explore the wildlife around the well. My mind stuttered in fascination over the flora and fauna: enormous bullfrogs, colorful birds, fawns that I called Bambi, and trees that seemed to reach the sky. Cattails by the river and fish that nipped at my ankles when we waded through the creek ignited my love for nature. All these things fanned the flame of my hunger for knowledge. This was my early exposure to science. I discovered much, learned deeply, and sought to understand the magnificence of God's creation.
 
However, if I had been told there would be a test on the workings of the rig as well as on the flora and fauna inhabiting the property, I'm certain I wouldn't have been so enchanted as I wandered around the lease. I would have seen the entire adventure as a chore to be endured. I might never have fallen in love with science.
 
Learning science, especially in the younger years, should be about the enchantment of discovery. Rather than cram the child's mind with every piece of scientific knowledge available, our goal should be to excite the senses, build a foundation of understanding, and impart a sense of knowing. Learning science is elevated above scoring well on a test to discovering the wonders of God's creation. This type of education develops a genuine and authentic love for learning that will last a lifetime. 

As homeschoolers, how do we develop in our children this love for learning? How do we make science a joy-filled exploration? By choosing materials that excite and enrich as they convey ideas and by learning together as a family. 

My Young Explorer Series was developed with this type of learning in mind. Each book is written to the child in an engaging style and is filled with fun and interesting hands on projects,
experiments, and activities the entire family can enjoy together. Siblings studying botany find nature walks much more meaningful as brothers and sisters excitedly point out the signs of life that go unnoticed to the average eye. As families learn about insects, the age old "Come look at this bug!" becomes a delightful moment, where the chatter concerns wings, color patterns, and possible classification rather than the typical "Ew." Even messy, fizzy chemistry experiments turn into family adventures filled with cherished memories of learning together. 

As you think about and plan for your elementary science studies, remember the words of Plutarch:
 
 Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Give your child the gift of science by unleashing the joy of discovery for the sake of knowing and for the love of learning.