In the early years, I primarily focused
on nature study, selecting one topic ev-
ery two weeks. However, many times the
children came up with their own ideas
during outside play, and we wound up
altering my predetermined plan. For
example, one day we found a praying
mantis in the garden, and began to study
about carnivorous plants and animals.
A spider web on the front porch led to a
study on the differences between spiders
and insects. An abandoned bird’s nest led
to a study of winged creatures.
Some of the most common preschool/
primary topics include birds, mammals,
insects, spiders, dinosaurs, rocks and
minerals, seashells, and ocean life. Make
use of trips to the zoo or museum, as well
as family excursions to the seashore, and
plan your units around such real-life experiences to make them even more interesting and relevant!
From about grades four through six,
children are often fascinated by the
physical aspects of life, such as weather
phenomena: tornadoes, hurricanes,
cloud formations and the water cycle.
They also tend to enjoy studying geology,
learning about earthquakes, volcanoes,
In seventh and eighth grade, it is
usually a good time to focus on topics
such as the human body, reproduction,
the birth process and child develop-
ment issues. The study of health, nutri-
tion and the effects of drugs, alcohol,
and tobacco, as well as the importance
of physical exercise are also ideal topics
for this age group.
By high school, most parents abandon
the natural, experiential approach to
learning, and simply buy textbooks for
biology, chemistry, and physics. However, with a little ingenuity, even the
high school classes can be approached
in a more relaxed manner, especially if
the students find a textbook approach
dull or uninviting. By this point, the
students themselves should be deeply
involved in planning.
For example, if you have a student who
is cringing at the thought of cutting things
up for biology, it might be possible to substitute a detailed study of botany. Biology
actually has two subsets, botany and zoology. Although it is customary to focus on
zoology at the high school level, there is
no law that says you have to do it that way!
A high level greenhouse/garden project
might fit the bill just as well. The main
thing to remember is that, in order to call
it a “lab” it has to have a significant hands-on component. In addition, if the student
is doing something that is a bit unusual,
it is very important to keep good records,
including photos or drawings of their
project, in order to explain the methodology to a college admissions officer later.
HSF Ambassadors help families homeschool through hard times.
Visit www.homeschoolfoundation.org/volunteer to learn more.
Home School Foundation
... the charitable arm of HSLDA
When a child wonders
why the soap floats in
the tub, or why the stars
shine, it is the beginning
of scientific discovery.