One of the greatest misconceptions about homeschooling is: it’s too difficult to give kids a quality education in the high school years. Whenever I hear that, without fail, parents cite science and math as the two biggest problem areas. As soon as they hit high school Biology, parents often throw their hands up in disgust.
Some parents take the route of hastily enrolling their teen in school because they just know they couldn’t possibly do high school Biology justice at home. Other parents are determined to plod on. They grab a high school Biology textbook. Their teen, bored to tears, lumbers through the book. And mom checks one more subject off the list.
But there’s another option. Another option that will engage your student in high school Biology…and it’s not as hard as you might think.
Why choose biology for your homeschool curriculum?
High school biology is most often taken during a student’s freshman year. “Biology” comes from the Greek words “bios,” meaning life, and “logos” meaning “the study of.” Now, “the study of life” sounds like it encompasses a wide array of topics. And it does! Most well rounded high school biology courses will cover introductory topics in:
- Cellular biology
- Human anatomy
You might be wondering, “Why in the world does my child need to know about all that stuff?” There are several reasons…
- If your child is on the college track, this is one of the basic lab sciences (along with Chemistry and Physics) most colleges like to see on their high school transcript.
- Another very practical reason to teach your child Biology is that it exposes them to a science that is required for many careers. A solid foundation in biology is required for careers in medicine (human and veterinary), nature conservationists, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, careers in biotechnology, agricultural or food scientists, and many more.
- Biology will give your child a greater understanding of the beauty and complexity of life—and in turn the Creator of life.
- Biology gives us a greater appreciation of the Bible. How often have you’ve read about the natural world in the Bible? For instance, Proverbs 6:6 says “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” If we are to rightly understand this verse, it helps to have an understanding of the ant.
- Biology connects to virtually every aspect of modern life. In addition to helping our students make decisions about personal health, an understanding of biology can help in creating informed opinions about many social and economic policies. This can include questions about the use of antibiotics, genetically modified crops, endangered species, genetically modified organisms, and more!
- When students are challenged in scientific investigation, it helps them learn to ask good questions, engage in critical thinking, and become problem-solvers—skills that will benefit them in any path they choose!
How to Teach High School Biology in Your Homeschool
So here’s the big question: Can you teach high school Biology as well (or better) than a public school?
The answer: it depends.
If by “teach” you mean standing at the front of a room, dispensing a wealth of knowledge on biology, and leading investigative labs…the answer is probably no. Few parents are equipped to do this themselves.
If by “teach” you mean you’re a facilitator who hooks your child up with the best resources that will engage their mind, challenge them, and give them hands-on experiences that reinforce their learning, the answer is absolutely yes. You’ve got this mom!
As a homeschool parent, you don’t personally have to do all the teaching. You can’t be the expert in everything (nobody can). In fact, your role in your child’s education should change as they get older.
What to look for in Homeschool Biology Curriculum
The good news is there are more options now than ever for teaching your child high school biology at home.
As a homeschooler, you have an enormous amount of freedom to look for curriculum and resources that will fascinate your student, captivate their senses, and inspire them to learn.
#1: Look for a robust, college-prep high school biology course.
It doesn’t matter whether or not your student actually attends college. We should challenge our children to develop their minds with a robust understanding of God’s creation.
#2: Look for curricula with multiple modes of learning, especially videos and labs.
The more senses you can engage when learning new material, the more likely you are to retain that information. So when looking for a high school biology course, look for a curriculum that will engage your student on multiple levels.
While a textbook is a good start, don’t stop there! Look for other elements, such as:
- Videos and vivid imagery
- Questions that require your student to think critically
- Hands-on laboratory assignments
#3: Look for curricula with connections to other disciplines.
When your student can connect what they’re learning in biology to other disciplines it will make it more memorable. How does biology intersect with…
- The bible?
- Real-world scenarios?
#5: Look for a biology curriculum that supports the learning process.
Find a course in biology that doesn’t just teach the subject matter. Find something that helps your student with…
- Practicing rote memorization of key ideas
- Practicing note-taking
- Developing their vocabulary
- Engaging in critical thinking and doing their own research
#5: Look for a curriculum with meaningful homeschool biology laboratory assignments that connect to learning objectives.
One of the best ways to learn biology is by doing biology—by experiencing biology for yourself. This is why colleges want to see lab sciences on your students’ transcripts. There is no book or video that can replace the experience of a lab.
A good biology curriculum will not just have relevant lab assignments related to the topics students are studying but will also provide…
- Adequate instruction for doing the labs. Video instructions and demonstrations can be a big help in this.
- An opportunity to write lab reports complete with creating and labeling sketches and compiling data. Writing lab reports helps your students organize their thoughts in a meaningful way and gain a better understanding of the scientific method.
Our Homeschool Science Curriculum: Experience Biology
While there are a lot of great resources in the homeschool world, with my background and degree in biology, I wanted to create a curriculum that would provide all of these things—and more.
This is why my husband and I are releasing Experience Biology. We couldn’t be more excited about how robust and engaging this course is turning out—it has been exhausting to create, but genuinely fun to watch it all fall into place.
We encourage you to check out Experience Biology for your teen this coming fall.