I think I can safely say that science labs are a necessity when homeschooling. When it comes to biology, chemistry, physics, and other upper-level science courses, the hands-on aspect of these sciences will propel your high school student to a higher level of learning.
You might be agreeing with me but still wondering how to execute your homeschool science labs. After all, you probably don’t have a fancy lab or big equipment commonly found in biology and chemistry labs. If you have a high school student who is taking an online science class, you may find labs to be even more daunting.
Today, you will learn how to change from homeschool parent to “laboratory scientist extraordinaire.” Let’s dive in!
Why Homeschool Science Labs?
Before I share how to successfully teach and complete homeschool science labs, you need to know why we at Journey Homeschool Academy believe labs are so important.
Here are a few reasons…
Promotes Engaged Learning
It’s easy to open a textbook, read about cell biology, close the textbook, and move on. And while reading is a crucial part of learning, hands-on labs can increase engagement, and understanding, and make science more fun! Even just adding some pre-packaged science kits can aid raising in the fun factor.
When science is more fun, your high schooler will be eager to learn, and this, in turn, will produce higher quality lab reports and advanced critical thinking skills.
May Be Required for High School Graduation
Some states require lab credit as a requirement for high school science! If you’re in a state that does require this, labs are a must-do for your high schooler. And, when your student graduates and attends college, they will most likely have to complete a general education science class that includes a lab.
Homeschool science labs will only increase their preparedness for college, and we at encourage them even if they aren’t required for high school graduation!
Encourages Group Participation
Including other high school homeschoolers in your student’s lab will encourage collaboration and foster social skills. Or, if you choose to go solo at home for labs, you can include siblings or jump in and participate yourself. Include the whole family, if possible! You’ll be surprised to hear the varying ideas and challenging opinions that come from a group interaction versus a single student!
How to Do Homeschool Science Labs (Yes, You CAN Do It!)
Now that you have learned why labs are so important in high school, let’s talk about how to do them.
Don’t wing it when it comes to science curricula.
The internet offers a seemingly endless array of lab exercises and experiments for each science. It is so easy to hop online, type “biology labs for homeschool,” and receive 684,000 results (yes, that number is accurate!) with lab options for all ages. Unfortunately, just picking a random lab and counting that as your homeschooler’s learning for the week isn’t the best route. This is where curriculum comes in as an essential part of learning!
We strongly encourage you to find a science curriculum that includes labs so you don’t need to wing it and risk compromising your student’s education. It’s important that the labs your student is doing connect with what they’re learning in the rest of their science curriculum, so they can begin connecting the dots and seeing how lessons connect to the hands-on labs.
Invest in lab supplies you will use again.
A few supplies that I consider a must:
- Lab notebook
- Safety goggles
- Chemistry supplies (pipettes, graduated cylinder, beaker, etc.)
- Microscope: these can be expensive, so check out our blog microscope buying guide on tips for buying one!
- A monogrammed lab coat (okay, this is a joke, but how COOL would that be?!)
Not sure what else to get? Take a look at our 12 must-have science tools. Keep in mind that you probably have a lot of supplies sitting around your house (jars, baking soda, etc.), and you can substitute other supplies—within reason, of course!
We do know it can be an overwhelming task when considering which supplies and tools to buy for a high school science course. In our courses, we help take the guesswork out by providing a list of our biology lab supplies and chemistry lab supplies laid out by lesson.
Do labs with other homeschoolers—co-op style!
When I was in high school, I loved the fact that even though I was homeschooled and could often do science in my pajamas, my mom made sure to include my peers in my learning! A highlight of my week was going to my best friend’s house for a homeschool biology lab. Not only did it make lab work more fun, but it also opened the door to hearing other opinions and ideas.
Pro tip! Many co-ops don’t have instructors that feel qualified to teach upper-level sciences. Consider a curriculum such as Journey Homeschool Academy that’s set up for co-ops. We’ll do the teaching for you!
Make the most out of dissections.
Most biology labs for high school are loaded with dissections. Your first initial reaction might be, “ugh, can we please just skip the gross fetal pig dissection?”
Nope. Don’t skip it. You might think it’s disgusting, but your high schooler will more than likely LOVE it.
A lot of biology labs for homeschool will leave out the dissections because the materials aren’t as accessible as they are in public school.
However, did you know that you can purchase an entire kit of biology and dissection supplies?
That’s right! One of our high school science courses, Experience Biology, has a complete kit you can buy to go along with the curriculum. Each of the various specimens for dissections is included too!
There’s a reason we use the words “experience” and “explore” in our science programs: we want homeschoolers of all ages to not just learn science but to truly experience and engage in it. Homeschool learning labs further this goal and truly aren’t as difficult to execute as they look (especially when your students have the lab videos we offer to guide them).
You don’t have to be a veteran homeschool teacher to help your high school student complete labs, so what are you waiting for? Amoebas and Petri dishes await!