A Guide to Homeschooling and STEM

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Table of Contents

What is Homeschooling?
Why Homeschooling May Be Right for Your Family
Flexibility
Effective Learning
Relationship and Independence Building
Socialization
What Are Some Challenges for Families When Homeschooling
Anxiety
Adjustment period
What is STEM and How Does it Work with Homeschooling?
STEM and Homeschooling
Science
Technology
Engineering
Mathematics
More Resources
STEM Field Trip Ideas

While many children thrive in a public school arena, some struggle in that environment. As well, not all children learn the same way or at the same speed. Homeschooling offers many parents the opportunity to help their children succeed.

What is Homeschooling?

Homeschooling is when parents or family members educate their children themselves rather than send them to a traditional public or private school. Many children thrive in this at-home learning environment. Families and communities have been practicing homeschooling for centuries. There are approximately 3 million children in the U.S. who are homeschooled. That’s about three percent of the school-age population. The popularity of homeschooling has increased yearly since all 50 states legalized the practice in the 1990s.

Why Homeschooling May Be Right for Your Family

Homeschooling has significantly increased in popularity in the last few decades. Many factors are considered as families and parents weigh options for homeschooling.

Flexibility

This is a major reason why some families choose to homeschool. Homeschooling allows the home instructor or parent to have a choice in curriculum. This allows freedom on how and what to teach. There is now the opportunity to take vacations in the off-season and adjust the months spent homeschooling. Appointments don’t require special notice to a school, and children can learn at the time that works best for them.

If a child is interested in certain subjects, extra time can be spent developing them. This also gives us a more customized approach to children with special needs or learning disabilities. The benefit of homeschooling is that it gives great flexibility and endless possibilities!

Effective Learning

It’s not a secret that classrooms in public schools have been at maximum capacity, with up to 30 children at one time. These packed classrooms are filled with a million different distractions. With homeschooling, there is the complete ability to move through material quickly or slowly, as needed. Overall, the quality of education increases when a child can learn in a one-to-one environment.

Relationship and Independence Building

Homeschooling means not missing out on pivotal moments in your student’s childhood because it is spent at home together!  Bonding and relationship building occurs between a student and the at-home instructor or parent. When students are homeschooled, their ability to take ownership of their learning process is fostered, and they learn skills like responsibility and accountability.  Additionally, older homeschoolers can start working and earning money while still in school.

Socialization

A misconception about homeschooling is that there aren’t many opportunities for socialization. However, with homeschool support groups, state homeschool associations, field trips, and sports programs, homeschoolers have plenty of opportunities to interact with peers. Social issues like bullying and targeting in the school environment are less of an issue.

What Are Some Challenges for Families When Homeschooling

Many parents struggle between establishing an efficient homeschooling program while also trying to work or make a living. This imbalance can create an environment of broken routines and uncertainty. Both families and children are found struggling to meet homeschooling expectations.

Along with the uncertainty, some families struggle to pay for homeschooling costs. Some states offer programs that help families overcome this challenge. There are funds that parents can apply for to use for a wide variety of education options, including homeschooling. Families can use these funds for online learning, textbooks, and more.  Here are a few other common challenges that come along with homeschooling.

Anxiety

When a parent or family initially researches the idea of homeschooling, the first instinct is to ask, “Can this even be done?”  It can feel overwhelming when considering that the child’s overall education will fall solely into one’s hands. Many wonder if they are doing enough, doing it right, or even doing the child a disservice. These fears and concerns are perfectly normal. Parents and families want the best possible education for their children! So, having this anxiety is very common.

Adjustment period

For those already thinking about transitioning a child from traditional school to homeschooling, the process can seem stressful. Deciding what the curriculum choices, schedules, and activities should be can feel very overwhelming. The longer a child has spent in traditional schooling, the more difficult it may be to transition to homeschooling. It will take some time to adjust from a formalized classroom mindset to the realization that there is more freedom to create a customized learning environment.

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What is STEM and How Does it Work with Homeschooling?

By now, you’ve probably heard about STEM. It’s a dynamic initiative that has become critical to the future not only for children but for diversity, the workforce, and the economy. Integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has been a central focus both within and outside of education. STEM education programs have received millions of dollars in support from the U.S. government, and it remains one of the biggest priorities at all levels of the educational system.

STEM education refers to integrating the four subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) into a cohesive, interdisciplinary, and applied learning approach. STEM education is all about connecting classroom activities and experiences to real-life opportunities. Students in any subject can benefit from STEM education. The ultimate goal of STEM education is to encourage students to take an interest in STEM subjects at an early age. This will benefit them as adults when seeking a career in these fields.

STEM and Homeschooling

Most homeschooled families’ parents are up to date in the world of education. The best thing about STEM education is that it combines all four subjects’ tools and concepts in accessible lessons and activities. Within a nontraditional school setting, students get the most out of the time spent in their studies. STEM works to not only incorporate everything into a nice bundle but also uses various learning objectives to help reinforce other ones. While some parents may not be well-versed in the STEM field, resources are available to apply to homeschooled children using a STEM curriculum easily. And keep in mind a few helpful tips:

  • Know this: Homeschooling is already teaching STEM to students. Whether it’s recognition exercises on a computer screen or how to design a simple craft, they are learning STEM.
  • A computer or tablet is necessary for homeschooling students and the easiest way to teach STEM! These tools provide a real-world view of the sciences that you’re teaching.
  • Don’t buy the most expensive gadgets. STEM doesn’t have to involve large amounts of money. A student needs to be taught with an effective curriculum that costs very little. Take time researching it or putting it together.
  • Take advantage of existing STEM resources. Many are available for parents and families, so there’s no need to start from scratch. Use free resources, like libraries and museums.
  • Encourage students to keep learning! Many young students, especially girls, stop being interested in STEM because society stigmatizes them as not good at it. They need to understand that they are more than capable!
  • Take STEM activities out of the classroom! Trips to the local aquarium, planetarium, or STEM learning centers are extremely valuable for the Homeschooling STEM experience.

 

Below is a STEM guide that includes a look at each subject and links to attractions and learning facilities that will help you create a successful homeschool STEM curriculum.

Science

Biology, chemistry, and physics are taught in STEM for the science aspect.

You can start using STEM activities for kids as early as preschool. There are online STEM lesson plans and hands-on projects that can easily make your child understand and appreciate science!

Ideas for Science Projects for Elementary School Students:

 

Ideas for Science Projects for Middle School Students:

 

Ideas for Science Projects for High School Students:

 

Technology

Subjects taught in STEM that involve technology are computer science, data analytics, game programming, and 3D or digital monitoring.

Ideas for Technology Projects for Elementary School Students:

 

Ideas for Technology Projects for Middle School Students:

 

Ideas for Technology Projects for High School Students:

 

Engineering

Subjects taught in STEM for the engineering aspect are mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and chemical engineering.

Ideas for Engineering Projects for Elementary School Students:

 

Ideas for Engineering Projects for Middle School Students:

 

Ideas for Engineering Projects for High School Students:

 

Mathematics

Subjects that are taught in STEM for the math aspect are statistics, geometry, and algebra.

Ideas for Math Projects for Elementary School Students:

 

Ideas for Math Projects for Middle School Students:

  • Graph or Pie Chart Nutritional Facts on Food or Snack Boxes
  • Fibonacci’s Numbers
  • Baking Challenge – Fraction challenge in Ingredients

 

Ideas for Math Projects for High School Students:

 

More Resources

For more details, information, and helpful tips on developing a Homeschool STEM curriculum, visit these websites:

 

Kids work on a science experiment

STEM Field Trip Ideas

An important part of the STEM homeschool experience is getting children and students out into the community to learn. Whether you live in a small town or a big city, there are so many opportunities for students of all ages to explore and learn. Here are some fun and educational ideas for your next Homeschool field trip!

  • Visit a local Recycling Center, Water Renewal Plant, or Energy Company
  • Explore Botanical Gardens, Parks, and Hiking Trails
  • Visit a Science Discovery Center, Natural History Museum or Zoo
  • Check out an Aquarium near you, such as SeaQuest!

 

SeaQuest offers unique, educational Field Trip experiences for students of all ages! Field trips include a 90-minute interactive tour. A designated Field Trip guide will take your group on a journey through five continents, designed to give students an increased understanding of our planet’s oceans, marine life, and complex ecosystems.

  •  Students participate in activities designed to test their observation and scientific reasoning skills and teach them about animal psychology, symbiotic relationships, and the dangers of invasive species.
  • Field Trip also includes an overview of essential conservation issues, including deforestation, shark finning, overfishing, carbon emissions, plastic pollution, and responsible pet ownership.
  • A behind-the-scenes Science Lab is also available for exploration.

 

More information and details can be found on the website: www.visitseaquest.com

Benefits of STEM

STEM helps students develop critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems and encourages them to become lifelong learners. They become confident, informed, and thoughtful as they grow and evolve in rapidly changing times. Students gain valuable analytical and information management skills by using STEM scientific methods to approach problems effectively. These skills will help them in all areas of life.

The most important thing about bringing STEM to your homeschool lessons is to HAVE FUN while learning! Children and students always learn best when engaged and enjoying their lessons. So have fun STEMing!

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