AUGUST 5, 2019

Top 5 Homeschool Science Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Sponsored post by © Greg Landry 2019

As homeschooling parents we give our children so many advantages as they move into the middle and upper grades and then to college. But, I believe there is one area where we can significantly improve the way we prepare them. That area is science.

College Prep ScienceHaving taught science to several thousand homeschooling and college students over the past 20+ years, several things stand out to me. I’ve put together a list of five mistakes and concrete steps we can take to better prepare our budding scientists.

Mistake #1 – Not doing timed tests.

I know that very few homeschooling families give their students timed tests and I think we are doing them a disservice. Gently beginning timed science tests in the middle grades gives students confidence, eliminates the anxiety associated with timed tests, and trains them to do well on standardized tests and on timed tests in college.

Start gently in the middle grades and slowly progress from there. For example, if you’re giving a student a 15 question test that you think will take them about 10 minutes to complete, tell them they have 25 minutes to take it. When they finish with plenty of time to spare it gives them confidence and relieves anxiety. The amount of extra time you give can be altered as they get older. Students actually do better on timed tests because they are focused on the test – knowing they have to work steadily. I always tell students, “If you are prepared and work steadily you will have plenty of time to finish this test.”

Mistake #2 – Not starting the high school sciences early enough.

I know it’s easy to put off starting the high school sciences, but it’s important, especially if the students may be a college science major. Critical decisions should be made going into 8th grade. The critical factor is being ready for standardized testing and being able to fit in the needed sciences in the high school years. High school Biology should be taken in the 9th grade for most students and in the 8th grade for some capable students who will likely be science majors.

Mistake #3 – Not beginning to take the ACT early enough.

Success on this standardized test is critical for college admissions and plays a direct role in how much financial aid a student will receive. Taking these tests twice per year beginning in 8th grade gives students experience and confidence which enables them to do well when they take this test for the final time in the spring of 11th grade. Click here to read my article, Six Reasons to Ditch the SAT and Laser Focus on the ACT.

Mistake #4 – Not writing good lab reports

As a college professor, I saw the pain of students who came in as science majors without good lab report writing skills and experience. Students get better at this with experience – there’s no substitute for that. Lab reports are simply the written summary of the scientific method. It takes lots of practice to develop the skill needed to do well on these. Click here to read my article, Top Three Lab Report Mistakes.

​Mistake #5 – Not creating a lab manual for every science class.

A lab manual is a collection of observations, data collection, and lab reports from a class. This gives students one place to neatly keep all of this information and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It’s impressive to have them lined-up on a shelf from all of their science classes. It’s also required by some states or umbrella groups for homeschoolers and some colleges want to see lab manuals as evidence of labs being completed.

Homeschool dad and former college professor, Greg Landry, offers Christian worldview online science classes and in-person two-day lab intensives for 6th – 12th grade homeschooled students at College Prep Science.