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Why Is Teaching Science to Kids SO HARD?

People often assume that teaching science to my own kids is easy for me. Teaching science is literally my job! But when it comes to teaching my own kids, we often get to the end of the week and realize that we haven't "done science."


Whether working outside the home or not, homeschooling or sending their children to school, have a science background or not, many parents I know have the same problem. They may have books full of science experiments and activities. They may have a subscription to a science box that comes in the mail (and is now stacking up unused in a corner of the room). They may have bought a microscope or telescope or set of equipment that never seems to get pulled out. They may give great science gifts for kids at holidays and birthdays. But they don't use them any

more than I do!


So today I'm going to make a list of all the reasons that *I* don't get around to doing science with my kids...maybe some of them will ring true for you.


It Takes Set-Up

Reading only requires opening a book. Practicing the piano means sitting down to it, maybe opening the lid. But science activities and experiments usually have a lot of small parts that need to be set up and assembled. Even if you have a kit to open, it can be overwhelming as everything that was so tidy in the box spreads over the entire dining room table. If I'm having to assemble a lot of different items, I might never get around to it.


It Takes Time

We can do spelling for just 10 minutes a day or stop writing if I realize I forgot an appointment and we need to LEAVE NOW! Most science experiments and activities take an investment of at least an hour. You often can't just stop in the middle and walk away.


And it's an hour of a parent having to focus on what's happening. I often mix kid-time with other activities. I might help with math while knitting or listen to the details of my child's day while fixing supper. I do my own work while waiting for my son outside ballet or for my daughter's aerial class to end. I'm writing this while my son writes an essay about the original (real version) train of his beloved train set. That isn't usually an option with science.


I Have to Prepare Ahead for Topics I Don't Understand

The last time I learned about volcanoes was over 30 years ago...when I was younger than my kids are now. I have a vague memory that some rocks come from volcanoes and some rocks don't, but when my kids come running to me wanting me to identify a particular rock, I hope that there's an app for that. I know that there are stars and planets in the sky and I've a vague idea of how to find the Big Dipper (I'm never quite sure if what I've found is ACTUALLY the Big Dipper).


So when it comes time to study any of this, I have to learn right along with my kids. That can be fun. But it's a huge investment. My kids job is to learn and grow. My job is everything else. If I had time to learn something new on my own, I can't say that the types of clouds and what they mean would be the first thing I would choose.


It Needs to Be Cleaned Up Afterwards

I remember when we didn't have to worry about choking hazards anymore and suddenly our lives were filled with toys with parts. Legos, train sets, Snap Circuits, and all the itty bitty pieces for Calico Critters. Science experiments and activities tend to take this to a whole new level. We can dump all the Legos into one bin. But the science things have to be put away carefully. There can be germs or chemicals or other stuff I have to figure out how to dispose of properly.


Some Ideas That Have Worked for Me

Next post I'll describe some of what I've tried and has worked for my family!