Developing a Long-Range Science Plan

When your oldest child is in 1st grade, it doesn’t much matter if you study birds and insects or simple machines and inventions. You can follow the interests of your child and yourself or simply choose an excellent curriculum and go with that. But to give your children a well-rounded science background, after a few years it is helpful to develop a long-range plan.

(If you are using a program that includes a science program you like, you may be all set. But even with boxed curricula, if you are teaching more than one child, it is often advantageous to combine children for science, and a long-range plan helps you see how you can do that.)

First, keep your family’s goals in mind. Do you want to include ample nature study? Do you have a houseful of little ones? Do you have teens that you are trying to mesh with? Your individual family’s needs and make-up along with your approach to homeschooling will mean that what works best for one family is not necessarily the optimal approach for another one.

Several years ago I created a four year rotation science plan for our family. Every time a particular focus rolls around we don’t do everything listed below, but I'll pick topics from that theme. That means I’m not doing the exact same thing every four years, which would drive me crazy, plus my kids dig deeply into various topics, and over the span of their elementary years they end up covering most of the basics. For example, one biology year we might focus on plants and flying animals. The next time through biology we might spend the entire year studying anatomy and physiology. (Apologia has just come out with a new elementary A and P curriculum!)

I've been surprised how well this plan has held up through the years. Though I've tweaked it, we've more or less followed it for the past nine years. In making my new long-range plan for the coming years, trying to maximize that synergy that comes from studying the same content areas as at least one of my high school students, I've had to make more changes than usual, but the overall plan still remains useful.

I'd encourage you to develop your own plan. Then remember it's just a guide, and feel free to alter it or even discard and start over as the needs of your family change. But just having a plan helps to aim you in a direction, so your time will not be in vain.

Year 1: Life Science: 2001-02, 2005-06, 2009-10
(Not all topics each time through; Different emphasis)
- Animals of the world
- Classification
- Birds
- Insects
- Reptiles
- Mammals

Human Body
- Five senses (May include units on ears/sound, eyes/light and sight)
- Genetics, heredity, reproduction
- Body parts and systems (Digestion, respiration, circulation, etc.)

- Trees
- Garden
- Reproduction
- Classification

Year 2: Chemistry and Nature Study 2002-03, 2006-07
Nature Study: One time through we will focus on Spring and Fall; the next
round through we’ll study nature in winter. Topics will vary from time to

Chemistry: Overview – matter, phases and phase changes, periodic table, reactions, pH, fun science! Include practical applications so they see relevance – e.g make soap, kitchen chemistry, pH and gardening, etc.
Also teach the scientific method and writing lab reports (simplified version for elem.)

Year 3: Physical Science and Technology 2003-04, 2007--08
Simple Machines, work
Inventions/ Industrial Revolution
Light and Sound
Bridges/Buildings/Structures (Engineering)
Energy and Forces (Energy sources,Newton’s Laws, Gravity, etc.)

Year 4: Earth Science and Astronomy 2004-05, 2008-09
Land: Volcanoes, ecosystems, more
Geology: rocks, minerals, caves, etc.
Solar System
Rocketry and Space Exploration

Upcoming: Mini reviews of some science curricula


Jessica said…
Great post, thanks! That is exciting about the new Apologia book... I didn't know!

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