The Absence of Science in Public Elementary School Curriculum

How important is a science education for your kids? Our public school system curricula are changing every day, and it's usually not for the better. Understandably, government-backed schools who are graded on students' proficiency in reading, writing and math put more of a focus on those subjects. More than ever, parents are turning to homeschooling to fill the gap left behind.

What Happened to Science?

There was a recent article in the news regarding elementary schools in Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska. The topic was science curriculum, which has been reduced or even - in some districts - eliminated in favor of putting an educational emphasis on reading and math. According to the AP newswire published in the Lawrence Journal-World, "as many as one in five elementary teachers in Kansas and surrounding states are reporting science grades on student report cards, despite the fact that they don't spend any time teaching the subject or testing pupils' knowledge in it."

What a travesty in terms of educational goals for our kids! This seems to be a trend not only in the Midwest but in public education districts across the nation.

The Importance of Teaching Science at Home

The good news, however, is that homeschool parents (and any other parents who are concerned about their child's education) aren't limited by this type of underfunding and overemphasis on everything but science.

In the National Academy of Sciences research paper, "A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Cross-Cutting Concepts and Core Ideas", the importance of science throughout a child's academic career is emphasized: "... integrating understanding the ideas of science with engagement in the practices of science and is designed to build students' proficiency and appreciation for science over multiple years of school. We believe that the education of the children of this nation is a vital national concern. The understanding of, and interest in, science and engineering that its citizens bring to bear in their personal and civic decision making is critical to good decisions about the nation's future."

The best way to help your kids comprehend science and be ready for college level coursework is to use a consistent, building blocks approach across grades K-12. Teach your kids the basics at an early age, then build on that knowledge by continually introducing new topics. I recommend that kids as young as five start with chemistry and physics courses in order to best prepare them for biology, astronomy and geology in subsequent years. They need an explanation of core scientific processes early on to combat their previously formed and often erroneous interpretation of the world around them.

Our children need to be actively engaged in hands-on learning throughout their entire undergraduate school career and this is the best way to develop deep comprehension. We cannot simply skip science education in the lower grades but expect students, by their twelfth year, to suddenly gain a deep understanding of science in the hopes they will continue their education in college. Not only does this approach help with comprehension and extrapolation of scientific concepts, it aids students in creating an organizational learning structure that encompasses other subjects so they excel in all.

The fact that so many public schools are skipping science in favor of the subjects on which they will be graded is both depressing and catastrophic. As a country lagging behind in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) innovations, we need to encourage our children to embrace science. The earlier they learn real science and the more they continue their education, the better.

Real Science-4-Kids frames science in a way that encourages kids to examine opposing models. To find out more about our books, check out our website. You can see the full text of all our books online for free, so you can decide for yourself if our books are the back-to-school science books you want for your child.

Find out more about the worldview neutral Real Science 4 Kids curriculum created by Dr. Rebecca Keller, herself a homeschool mom, and other home school teaching resources on our Real Science blog.