Integrating STEM into Our Elementary Homeschool

201502stem-integration-BRLThe middle of the school year is the perfect time for evaluating how the curricula choices have been going and tweak the schedule.

This month, I finally accepted two things that I’ve been fighting against.

First, Writing With Ease Level 2 was not working for Raisin. He hated it. The “listen to a passage” portion was boring. The copywork was tedious. And although he seemed somewhat interested in the books the quotations were from, he was bored with all the work.

Secondly, my husband reiterated again to me that he wants me to do more with S.T.E.M. subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Now, I am not a science and math type of person. At least, those subject were always the most difficult for me in school. I was not even sure I could label what engineering really is. So I must insist that I still am not a STEM person.

That said, I have found that integrating STEM more fully in to our school work is not as hard as I was afraid of!

Rather than reading my son long passages from books he’d like to read for fun (but not for copywork from during school), I found a nonfiction book about building from which to find passages for a Writing With Ease-style learning for narration, copywork, and dictation. To my surprise, simply changing the subject of the assignment made the work much more interesting to him.

Beyond using these subjects during English time, I have found that reading about engineering projects provides a historical and geographical context (each section is a different American building project), and it has opened up his interest in various technologies and engineering design issues that he was previous unfamiliar with.

In the past two weeks, we learned about the Erie Canal, the Hoosac Tunnel, the Brooklyn Bridge, and now the Golden Gate Bridge. When we learned about the Erie Canal, we found videos of how a lock works, and another video of a real boat entering a lock. Since we live near Chicago, we learned about the locks on the Chicago River. (Some day we’ll go on it!) We studied maps of New England when we learned about the tunnel through the hills of Western Massachusetts. And now we are beginning a unit on bridges, which I suspect will have to end with some self-made bridge experiment too.

Although I do not see myself becoming a STEM expert overnight, I am positive that as I learn along with my son I’ll see even more ways in which to integrate STEM throughout all the subjects we do. There is no need to be afraid of it anymore: it is easy to include science, technology, engineering, and math in a seamless educational experience.

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