I thought it might be helpful for me to start a page of frequently asked questions about the science guides. I’m going to just add to it as I go, rather than looking back at all the questions I’ve been asked up to now. If you don’t find the answers you need, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I report the various middle school classes to my homeschool authority?
Grade 7/8,” general science” textbooks typically focus on introductory biology, some history of science, introductory chemistry, technology and engineering, and geology (available in Jan 2018.) You could choose the three science study guides corresponding to those subjects and call the year’s worth of General Science.
In the same vein, “physical science” textbooks typically focus on weather, more geology, astronomy, and introductory physics. So you could do those three study guides (minus geology,) and call the year’s worth of science Physical Science. Don’t stop there though. As we follow Charlotte Mason’s plans for a liberal education, we will sometimes find we go above and beyond the standard requirements. Therefore, be sure to include one day of botany per week.
How much money should I budget for supplies?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a total cost of supplies for each study guide. Maybe I will do that when I catch up a little. Often the supplies you will need are things you can get around the house or the local hardware store. When you do need to order something I usually recommend ordering from Home Science Tools, which offers excellent prices, even though you do have to pay shipping costs. Also, as I create subsequent guides, I always try to consider what I’ve suggested for use in previous guides so that you can reuse equipment and chemicals. Lastly, sometimes I give you an option, such as “use a small jar or beaker.” If you would like to keep things cheap, you can use something like a drinking glass or a Mason jar, but if you have extra funds or you are sharing supply costs with a group, you might rather buy the beaker. It’s fun students to use real science equipment when they can.
What if my child has already completed a year of high school biology? Does he need to continue doing science once a week as you recommend?
I still recommend that you have him read something from the field of biology once a week. Miss. Mason wanted them to have a balance, the whole feast, and you can’t overshoot that balance now because it was off to begin with. But there are many interesting things to read. Consider the following subjects: health (Fearfully and Wonderfully Made,) forensic science (Solving Crimes: Pioneers of Forensics or The Poisoners Bible,) medical ethics (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,) neurology (The Mind’s Eye,) surgery (Dr. Beaumont and the Man With the Hole in His Stomach,) nutrition (The Vitamin Pioneers or The Vitamin Hunters or The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition.) There is a lot of great books to read. What topics were left out of the class he took previously? (I suspect anatomy and health.) What subjects are important to you your student? What books will help inspire him?
Can the guides be counted for a “lab” science? We are required to have 3 credits, 2 of which must be lab.
Absolutely! Each and every guide I have available can be counted as a lab credit. This is because Charlotte Mason said, “The only sound method of teaching science is to afford a due combination of field or laboratory work, with such literary comments and amplifications as the subject affords.” (vol. 6 pp. 222-223) At graduation, if you follow Charlotte Mason’s plan for science education, your student will have accomplished more than any requirement for graduation or college entrance that I have ever seen. But more importantly, they will be prepared for “civilized citizenship,” and hopefully, they will have come to love and appreciate the world we they in.
I am wondering, what are your thoughts on combining students of different ages.
The work assigned to form 1 (gr. 1-3) and form 2 (gr. 4-6) students is so much different from what is assigned to all other students that I do not suggest combining either of these forms with any other form. Of course, if you have multiple children within one of those forms, they can certainly work together. The work assigned to form 3 (gr. 7-8) and high school (gr. 9-12) students is quite similar, and therefore, students in these forms can often be combined. It just depends on where they are each at in their abilities and previous work. I’ll give a few examples:
- If a 10th-grade student has never done any biology, he could work through the Men, Microscopes, and Living Things guide with his 7th or 8th-grade sibling.
- If you have an 8th grader and high schooler they can start the high school chemistry together. (In most cases I do suggest that the form 3 physics guide be complete before the high school physics guide, so this example does not carry over to that subject.)
- A form 3 and high school student could work on the form 3 Astronomy guide together
Even if your students are using different guides, that suit their level, you can still have them studying the same subjects. For instance, everyone can be doing their own study of the weather, astronomy, chemistry, geography or physics, at the same time. That makes the study more enjoyable.
If you desire to combine your students because there is not enough of you to go around, then note that I write the form 3 and high school guides TO the student. You will need to provide supplies and accountability that each part is being done completely, but other than that, you shouldn’t need to be involved. Several of the books are even available as audiobooks if that if necessary.
Will you be having a separate biology packet for HS? If not, what do you suggest for HS biology if we follow the once a week for four years plan?
I do have a plan. I just haven’t gotten that far yet. I have it sketched out, so if your students have completed form 3-4 biology and form 3-4 botany, send me an email and I’ll get you started. For now, either of those is excellent for students of any age.
I am wondering about the Christian content, or lack thereof, in your science guides. Could you share a bit about your philosophy in this area and how that philosophy plays out in your science guides?
The answer to this turned into the blog article Must We Read Only Christian Authors for Science.
How much math is incorporated into the high school physics and chemistry?
I typically offer math sets as an optional activity. (Optional based on what the parents decide, not the student.) Math is a language that helps student DO science, but if a student cannot do the math, I do not want them held back from learning about science.
Do you offer, or will you offer a Form 1 science study guides?
I will not prepare study guides for form 1 students. Charlotte Mason wanted students at this age (up through grade 3,) to read nature lore and make special studies only. She did not want them to delve into formal science yet. I have recorded a teacher training video, available on ADelectableEducation.com, that explains how nature study lays the foundation for science. Through nature study students learn the habit of observation and recording, they learn to find joy in the laws and order of nature, and they learn the art of asking questions. You might also like to read my article Mason’s plan for form 1 science to get started.
Can I substitute another book for the one you assign?
No, you cannot substitute for a different book. Each guide is set up as a supplement to the specific book assigned. The lessons include a setup that prompts the student to remember what they read previously and turn their attention to what they will read that day. Then the reading is assigned and a narration suggested. Some lessons include discussion questions or further activities based on that day’s reading and all experiments are correlated to the reading from the last few days. However, it’s always an option for you to create your own lesson plans for any good living science book that you own. It just takes time and a little research.
I’m just curious with the shipping for the items on my order…does it really cost $5 each book to ship or can they be bundled together and the shipping reduced.
I understand your concern. It annoys me too when companies overcharge for shipping. The program I use is primarily set up to sell digital downloads, which is what I intended when I first started this venture – all digital downloads. But then I started printing and shipping them. The program allows for that, but will only allow that I set a flat amount for shipping on each item and will not take into consideration how many items you purchase.
I made a spreadsheet to figure out the best way to be fair to customers and in the end, I settled on the following two tweaks to the system to get around this problem. 1) I charge $5 for the printing and $5 for the shipping. The printing really costs $6-8, depending on the guide, and the shipping, including envelope and printing, costs $4 and up, so if you order 1 or 2 guides, even with shipping, I actually take a small loss. 2) If you purchase 3 or more guides, I offer a 10% discount on the order. Which again causes me to take a small loss on the overall printing/shipping costs. With this system, you must order 6 guides, before you are overcharged $1.
I hope that helps explain the seemly exorbitant cost of shipping. You are always welcome to purchase the digital guides and print them yourself or have them printed at Office Depot or another location.