As Karen and I were hashing out how we wanted the Layers of Learning curriculum to be organized I assumed we would do science in a traditional pattern. We would study biology one year, earth science the next, follow that up with chemistry, and then top it all off with a year of physics, then repeat. But Karen said, “No that’s boring. I can’t do all biology for a whole year.”
She suggested we do biology, earth science, chemistry, and physics all in one year. Arggh, I thought, the chaos! Besides, in the back of my head was high school, traditional expectations, traditional textbooks, traditional subjects taken at the traditional time. Like Tevye I was very concerned with TRADITION!
Deciding on the Order
So we created a Units At A Glance, a sort of map of our four year cycle, and behold, it wasn’t chaos after all. It was synergy.
The divisions people put in between the sciences are artificial. Chemistry, physics, earth science, and physics are all what our forefathers called “natural history”. They are all a study of nature, of the universe, and of ourselves.
So in the Layers of Learning homeschool science curriculum you study atoms and molecules in the same year you study plants, which is handy when you learn about photosynthesis. You study weather in the same year you study electricity and magnetism, and consider they are related in events like lighting, the aurora, and even prevailing winds.
Yet, the science lessons are very organized and methodical, not higgeldy piggledy at all. Each major topic is studied over a five unit spread. So we have five units of plants one after the other in Year One. We have five units on the human body one after the other in Year Three. And there are five units on ecology in Year Four.
High School Science
What about high school? I have two high schoolers now, one in his sophomore year. The Layers of Learning method works perfectly for them too. I was actually afraid that the whole program would be too simplistic for high school level, but after writing it and using it, I’ve found the opposite to be true, not that it’s too hard, just that it is as rigorous (actually more so, my kids actually read Darwin and Galileo and Stephen Hawking, not just condensed versions of them) as any high school program and yet, far more interesting as it is more student driven.
Science With Real Books
Layers of Learning is not a text book. It is a guide. Kids who do Layers of Learning science read real books from real authors about everything from mushrooms to blood to magnets. They dissect stuff, use microscopes, combine household and more serious chemicals, draw Lewis Dot diagrams and learn the constellations by gazing at the real life night sky. And every bit of it is optional or expandable. Dissections gross you out? So don’t do any. It’s a curriculum designed for you and the way you learn.
I couldn’t be happier with the way the science is shaping up for my little kids and my big ones.