Teaching STEM in Your HomeschoolSeptember 23, 2021
This post is sponsored by Study.com.
STEM has become a major buzzword in education over the last decade and it’s now a big part of homeschooling curriculums. So, what does STEM stand for? STEM is the umbrella term for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Integrating it into your child’s studies is a fantastic way to set them up for future success. In this post, we’ll give you STEM resources and activities you can implement in each level from elementary to high school. Let’s go!
STEM: Benefits and Importance of STEM Activities
Why is STEM so important? The approach of STEM is interdisciplinary, using the scientific method to explain and understand everyday situations.
STEM is crucial in teaching students:
- Critical thinking
- How to solve complex, real-world problems
- How to be a lifelong learner
- Analytical and information management skills
Moreover, STEM is ”applied”, which means that students do not use memorization as the main tool of learning about the world around them. Introducing ways of learning that aren’t rote and mechanical can help foster mental flexibility that will serve them in every area of life.
Finally, STEM activities for kids ensure that they will be exposed to learning paths that lead to careers that are projected to grow at a rapid pace in the near future.
STEM Topics According to Age
There is a clear progression of STEM activities that can be included at each level of homeschool education:
Kindergarten to Grade 2
- Awareness of space around children and geometric shapes
- Gravity and simple machines
- Basic logic and coding
- Ecosystems and weather
Grades 3 to 6
- Energy and more complex machines
- Basics of engineering
- Basics of robotics
- Basics of aeronautics
- Game strategy and design
Grades 7 and 8
- Design principles
- Renewable energy
- Light and lasers
- Creating web-based applications
Grades 9 to 12
- Graphic design and Photoshop
- Advanced robotics
- Advanced engineering
- Video production
- Creating mobile apps
- 3D printing and modeling
STEM Courses for Homeschool
While most parents are not well-versed in the STEM field because they were not taught this interdisciplinary approach to the sciences during their own schooling years, you can still easily apply a variety of resources to teach homeschool children using a STEM curriculum.
There are six rules that should be at the core of teaching STEM courses to your children:
- Understand you are already teaching your children STEM. If you teach your kids how to recognize a bird on the computer or how to design a simple machine, they are learning STEM.
- Use your computer or tablet for homeschooling your kids. This is the easiest way to teach STEM and 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. Your child needs to understand concepts that can be taught with an effective curriculum that costs little other than your time researching it or putting it together.
- Take advantage of existing resources. There are many STEM resources available for parents, and we’ll look at them in a later section. Don’t feel like you need to start from scratch. Most importantly, take advantage of free resources, like libraries and museums.
- Be encouraging. Many young students, especially girls, stop being interested in STEM because they get the message from society that they aren’t good at it. Make sure they understand that they are more than capable.
- Take the STEM activities out of classroom time as well. Take your child to fairs, makerspaces, or STEM learning centers outside of your classroom time.
STEM Activities for Elementary School
You can start using STEM activities for kids as early as preschool. You can use online STEM lesson plans and hands-on projects that can easily make your child understand and appreciate science and math. Let’s look at some activities that are particularly suited to young children:
- Take field trips to places like research labs, plants, and energy companies.
- Meet them where they STEM. For example, if your child loves the ‘’Star Trek’’ or ‘’Star Wars’’ franchises, use their interest to learn more about technology and science through these fun routes.
- Use a discovery basket where your child can add questions about the projects that you’re learning together and then provide specific answers and examples during your lesson.
- Involve your child in household chores and projects that make use of STEM. This can range from learning to cook using measuring tools to learning how to fit a new sofa in a room.
STEM Activities for Middle School
It can be hard to keep your students motivated as they make their way through middle school, so use real-world examples as much as you can and use the children’s innate curiosity to their benefit.
- Involve your child in competitions involving science and technology by joining STEM homeschool groups.
- Challenge your student outside the classroom. For example, have the student calculate the distance and cost involved in your next trip to an exotic location for vacation.
- Teach your student how to make a video or multimedia slideshow. In addition to teaching them a STEM skill, this can be fun for students who are not fans of writing traditional essays.
STEM Activities for High School
Having a keen interest in STEM during high school means that your student will be better prepared for a college degree in the field and a successful future career in STEM. The most effective way to ensure that your student’s drive remains high is by providing them with an online curriculum. However, there are other activities and projects that you can offer them, including:
- Learning how to code through free or paid initiatives; these range from learning programming languages and web design to becoming a pro in mobile app development.
- STEM subscriptions that are offered by many companies and deliver monthly STEM content and projects, such as building electric pencil sharpeners or mini computers.
- Involving students in environmental research, which can be done both through coursework and hands-on activities, such as cleaning up your local beach or planting trees, that your student can volunteer for.
- Using a printable science experiment calendar, which can further your student’s understanding of the scientific method by looking at a different step of an experiment every day of the month.
Online STEM Resources for Homeschoolers
Online resources for STEM can expand your homeschool knowledge and understanding, as well as ensure the success of your students in STEM, especially if you’re not well-versed in it.
Study.com has a wealth of homeschool resources, including a hub for all things homeschool. You can get specific resources for STEM homeschooling, such as advanced algebra lessons, introductory biology, and the scientific method. Additionally, you can teach thousands of individual concepts such as PEMDAS through engaging and easy-to-follow lessons. You can also use Study.com to connect to other parents who homeschool their children in STEM through homeschool co-ops.
Additional Homeschool Resources
Back to School for Homeschoolers (also from Study.com)