Helping Your Child with Science
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What Are Children Learning In Science?
How Can Parents Help?
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"Being "scientific" involves being curious, asking how things happen, and learning how to find the answers. Curiosity is natural to children, but they need help understanding how to make sense of what they see. All we need is a willingness to observe and learn with them, and, above all, to make an effort and take the time to nurture their natural curiosity."
Guidelines and resources presented here are intended to help willing parents nurture interest and success in science among their children.Back to the Table of Contents
WHAT ARE CHILDREN LEARNING IN SCIENCE?
Each school has its own science program and expectations, but most are aligned with state curriculum frameworks or guidelines that are, in turn, strongly influenced by national standards. "National Standards for Science Education" were developed by the National Research Council (see http://www.nas.edu/nrc/). The "Standards" present unifying concepts and processes that pertain to science at all grade levels, as well as specific content standards at each grade range for (a) science as inquiry, (b) life science, (c) physical science, (d) earth and space science, (e) science and technology, (f) science in personal and social perspectives, and (g) history and nature of science. These standards andothers are summarized online in "The McREL Standards Database" (see http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/); select "Table of Contents," then "Science."
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has also developed a comprehensive set of guidelines for how students should progress toward science literacy. The "Benchmarks for Science Literacy" (available online at http://project2061.aaas.org/tools/benchol/bolframe.html) are statements about what all students should know and be able to do in science, mathematics, and technology by the end of grades 2, 5, 8, and 12.
A related set of science education standards for nonformal education has also been developed for the National Network for Science and Technology (NNST; see http://www.fourh.umn.edu/educators/research/4h590.html). Clear and comprehensive, these standards describe what scientifically literate youth should know, and a "Checklist for Good Learning" in Part IV of the standards provides helpful questions for evaluating science classes and programs.
For a comprehensive listing of resources on national and state standards in science education, see the webpage provided by the Putnam Valley Schools of New York at http://putwest.boces.org/StSu/Science.html.Back to the Table of Contents
HOW CAN PARENTS HELP?
Research shows that the level of parent involvement in a child's education is strongly related to the degree of success in school (Henderson & Berla, 1994). "What families do is more important to student success than whether thay are rich or poor, whether parents have finished high school or not, or whether children are in elementary, junior high, or high school" (Robinson, in Paulu, 1995). For general tips on ways to strengthen bonds with children, see the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) website (select "Get Involved" at http://www.pta.org/commonsense/2_parents/2_parents.html). The importance of family involvement in education led the U.S. Congress to add the following goal to the National Education Goals (http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Homework/pt11.html): "Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children." To that end, the U.S. Depart-ment of Education has established the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education program (see http://pfie.ed.gov) and provides financial resources to communities for developing programs that serve families. For parents actively working with schools, the PTA has produced "National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs" (Online at http://pta.org/programs/invstand.htm). The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) provides some specific hints for parents wanting to help their children explore science (see http://www.nsta.org/parents/). Focusing on skills is important (observing, classifying, predicting, and quantifying), along with asking questions and seeking answers. The NSTA website also identifies some myths about science:
Following are more ways that parents can help their children learn science:
The computer has become a common and essential tool in learning many school subjects, particularly mathematics and science. You and your children can use the computer to:
For help in selecting science software, seek recommendations from one or more of the many websites that provide software reviews. The Educational Software Review page at the SuperKids website (see http://www.superkids.com) provides monthly features, annual software awards, an index of all software reviewed, and pertinent articles. For instance, "Fun with Science" is a highly rated set of six multimedia CD-ROMs that resemble an "Eyewitness" book in their composition. Each disk contains an introduction to its subject; sections that explore subjects through animation, illustrations, narration, activities, and videos; and a scrapbook of detailed descriptions, helpful explanations, and interesting facts. "Fun with Science" is appealing to children and draws on their interests and curiosity.
For middle-school children, "Virtual Physics: The Eggs of Time" teaches major physics topics by involving them in a quest to save future generations from the evil plans of the alien Spring-Horns. This popular program teaches an intriguing subject in an engaging manner and is particularly appealing to children who like math and problem-solving activities.
Software reviews are also provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (see http://www.evalutech.sreb. org/archives/). A rating system is not provided, but software programs are thoroughly described, and strengths, weaknesses, and uses are identified.
If you have access to the Internet, there are many helpful websites that provide guidance, resources, or information not readily available in most homes. Both the access to Internet resources and the practice in finding useful resources are valuable. For help in using the Internet, refer either to "The Parent's Guide to the Information Superhighway" (http://www.pta.org/programs/guide. htm) or "Parent's Guide to the Internet" (http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/internet/).
Following are some representative online resources for science:
For more details about these and other homework tips, see "Helping Your Child with Homework" (Paulu, 1995) and "How Important is Homework?" (Available online at http://www.accesseric.org:81/resources/parent/homewrk.html). As Weaver (1998) has said, "the entire family needs to cooperate to help students develop good study habits." Before studying, it is also important for "a child...[to] be rested and relaxed after a school day before concentrating on homework. Help the child avoid rushing to finish homework before a deadline such as dinner or bedtime. Try to schedule study time so it doesn't conflict with a favorite activity or necessary function."
There are many homework guidelines and resources available online for both parents and students. For parents having questions about homework or wanting more guidelines, see the following websites:
Henderson, A. T., & Berla, N. (Eds.). (1994). "A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement." Washington, DC: National Committee for Citizens in Education. [ED 375 968]
Kanter, P.F. (1994). Helping your child learn math. Washington, DC: U.S. G.P.O. (Available online at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Math/title.html)
Paulu, N. (1995). "Helping your child with homework." Washington, DC: U.S. G.P.O. (Available online at: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Homework/title.html)
Weaver, M. K. (1998). "Helping" with homework. "Enriching Kansas Families," October 28.Back to the Table of Contents
Contact the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education (1-800-621-5785) and ask for a copy of "ENC Focus," 5(3), that focuses on family involvement in education; and explore the ENC website at http://www.enc.org. Also, search the ERIC database for more resources on science and homework at http://www.accesseric. org:81/searchdb/searchdb.html.
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education. The
ideas and opinions expressed in this Digest do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of OERI, ED, or the Clearinghouse.
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Title: Helping Your Child with Science. ERIC Digest. Document Type: Information Analyses---ERIC Information Analysis Products (IAPs) (071); Information Analyses---ERIC Digests (Selected) in Full Text (073); Target Audience: Parents Available From: ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education, 1929 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1080. Descriptors: Assignments, Computer Uses in Education, Elementary Secondary Education, Homework, Internet, National Standards, Parent Participation, Parent Role, Resource Materials, Science Curriculum, Science Education, Study Habits Identifiers: ERIC Digests ERIC Identifier: ED432447 Publication Date: 1999-03-00 Author: Haury, David L. - Milbourne, Linda A. Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Science Mathematics and Environmental Education Columbus OH. THIS DIGEST WAS CREATED BY ERIC, THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ERIC, CONTACT ACCESS ERIC 1-800-LET-ERIC
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