A couple of days ago a Facebook memory from 13 years back popped up in my feed. It was an account of my son explaining that “a star with a tail is called a comet.” He was not even two at the time. In hindsight, that moment was the beginning of his love of science. Around the same time, he was also enthralled by the floor puzzle depicting the solar system. Once he learned the names and the order of the planets better than I knew them at the time, it became clear that we had a science nerd and an astronomy enthusiast on our hands.
However, the utter lack of science curriculum at my son’s public elementary school was one of the reasons my husband and I opted to educate our self-directed son in a nontraditional way – we chose to homeschool.
When you homeschool, the line between school and enrichment becomes blurred because, really, learning is happening non-stop. So, in addition to letting our son take more traditional science classes, we did a lot of other activities and used many other resources to support his passion, from observing the sky through our 10-inch Dobsonian telescope and witnessing the total solar eclipse in Oregon in 2017 to indulging our son in his desire to visit all of US National Parks. (Speaking of eclipses, if you haven’t experienced totality yet, you have the perfect opportunity to do so in April 2024 – we will be in Texas for the event.)
Curious to know more about how to support your science enthusiast? This spreadsheet lists the resources we’ve used and activities we’ve done with our son over the years. The last column of the spreadsheet indicates how old he was when he was engaged in them, but make sure to adjust accordingly, as every child is different. I hope this list will be handy to some of you. And, if you have some ideas you'd like to add, email me at email@example.com.
About the Author: Guest blogger Yekaterina (Katrina) O’Neil is a homeschooling mom by day, a doctoral student by night, and a software security researcher by trade. The mom to two 2e kids in middle and high school, she began homeschooling them after public school turned out not to be a fit. To understand and support her kids better, Katrina is pursuing a Doctoral Degree at Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education, while attempting to juggle a career in cybersecurity at the same time. She is passionate about neurodiversity and hopes to spread awareness and acceptance of neurodivergent individuals at home, at school, and in the workplace.She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science & Engineering from UC San Diego.