In my last post, I talked about some general tips on how to help with homework. Now, let’s look at ways to help specifically with science lessons. Consistent practice will build a good foundation for students and homework, which will lead to lifelong learning and creating!
1) Discuss the class lessons with your student. Having the student talk about the lesson at home will help the student understand it better. This is because talking about the lesson gives students the chance to put it into their own words, at their own pace. Giving students the time to learn at their own pace is incredibly important to sustainable learning, and the better they can talk about the lesson, they better they understand it.
2) Practice problem-solving. Through all their classes, students will hopefully learn some critical thinking and problem-solving skills. However, problem-solving needs to be practiced at home too. Problem-solving is how students (and adults!) develop the self-sufficiency needed to overcome struggles, whether they are school-related, work-related, or relationship-related. Solving problems well is definitely a skill that will be needed throughout life.
3) Encourage creativity and EXPERIMENT! If you search online, you’ll find that most of the advice for helping with science homework is simply to “do science.” As the National Science Teachers Association states, “The skills of science can and should be practiced everywhere. But it’s clear from research that children’s minds grow best when the environment is rich and varied.” So, encourage your students to take apart things (safely, of course) and find out how they work. Talk with them about how the world around them works (e.g., ice melting or the wheels rolling on the grocery cart). The more you encourage them to think about the things around them, the more their inquisitiveness and learning will grow.
4) Read science articles. Keep up to date about the technology being developed and other science advancements. This doesn’t mean you have to know everything about science or even understand everything you read. However, being aware of what is going on can help you relate your student’s lesson to current events, which can help you both understand the lesson better. Relating current events to science lessons at school show how the school work maintains its relevance, even if you’re not sure how electron orbitals could affect you today.
5) Direct your student to resources. In the end, if you can’t help with the actual understanding of the lesson, direct your student to those who can. In my post about resources, I list several helpful websites and projects that can help explain the science concepts. In addition to websites, you can also direct your student to the teacher or class tutors. They are there to help students understand the material! Of course, there are also professional tutors (such as myself!) who are trained specifically to help with certain subjects. Enlist a tutor’s help!
Note: Encourage boys and girls equally. As many people know, there are far fewer females in math/science fields than there are males. This discrepancy can be traced back to childhood, where boys are encouraged to play with blocks and tools (i.e., building things) while girls are encouraged to play with “pretty” things. All the tips above, especially 2 and 3, are for everyone. It is observed that when girls are given “building” toys, they are as creative and excel just as well as boys do. I highly recommend Roominate and GoldieBlox, as well as the classic Legos and Tinkertoy(now plastic, not wood).