I am guilty of not always enjoying science in my homeschool. But I readily acknowledge that children’s attitudes to subjects are formed through their parents’ attitudes to it. If education rather than entertainment is made a priority, then the activities you plan together as a family will be based around that. Parents can help give their children a head start by encouraging science-based activities.
Show How Science Is Exciting
Some parents steer away from science because they did badly in it at school, or feel they don’t know enough. (Yes, this is was me!) Avoid saying negative things that might dampen their enthusiasm, like “I always hated science at school.” Instead, treat it like a voyage of exploration for the whole family. If you don’t know an answer to how something works, go and Google it. (Or, ask Alexa!)
Visit Science and Natural History Museums
Museums are a great place to start. Some natural history museums (think: dinosaurs!) have a planetarium attached too. It’s a great way to get them interested in exploring the stars. Many museums have a “Night at the Museum” sleepover, which could be a fun activity for the whole family. Kids math and science discovery museums are starting to become more popular, offering games, activities and challenges that are so fun, most kids will have no idea how much they are learning. My kids beg to go to these and return to them! My daughter and I went to one children’s museum and ended up playing “grocery store” (among other things) for more than half and hour.
Discuss Career Options
Many children talk about what they want to be when they grow up. Many might say doctor, nurse, astronaut, veterinarian. What types of science does your child needs to know for any dream careers? Help your child feel eager about a future doing something they really love by looking into the science of the careers at a young age.
Invest in Educational Toys, Games, and Books
Every parent has a budget. Make your money go further with quality educational toys, games, and books they can really learn from. In particular, you can buy them geology sets and chemistry sets when they are old enough to be able to use them safely. Even basic toys can be useful and educational. See my elementary Homeschool STEM list on Amazon. If your budget limits you from investing in toys, games, and books, visit your local library and ask what kinds of STEM support they offer.
Watch Educational Programs Together
There are many nature and science channels available on cable with a range of science and nature programs that can really inspire children. Try the Discovery channels, National Geographical channels, and PBS programs like Nature and Nova. Check out my post about great video homeschooling programs in all subjects!
Go on Nature Walks
Nature walks can be fun if you take the time to learn more about the trees, animals, and geological information about the area. Learn how to identify different trees and flowers. Take along some disposable rubber gloves and trash bags and clean up items that should be recycled as you wander along. Another bonus to doing walks together in nature is the ability to slow down and observe the world around you. So much of science is observation.
Make the Most of Free Time
Finally, encourage your children to follow their passions during free time, rather than watching TV or playing computer games. Help them research a favorite animal, create a diorama of its habit, and so on. The possibilities are endless. We live in a society where we can find nearly any information we want with the click of a mouse.
By doing these activities, tailored to the age of your kids, you could help encourage a life-long interest in science.