How Do Home-Schoolers Teach Calculus, Physics and Biology?

by Steve Foster

    Homeschooling allows parents to control how, when and what their children are taught, but difficult subjects like calculus, physics and biology can be a challenge for parents to teach, especially if they are not familiar with the material themselves. Commonly, homeschooling parents will either already be comfortable with the subject matter or they will rely on outside resources. They may also study the subject in question and then teach it to their children.

    Parent Knowledge and Learning

    Some homeschooling parents will already have a strong background in higher-level science and math classes, so they can rely on their own knowledge and experience. Homeschooling parents who are not as well-versed or confident in calculus, physics or biology may choose to increase their own knowledge before teaching their child the subject, by taking a class at a local college or by purchasing books to help refresh their understanding. Others may choose to learn alongside their child, seeking to understand the subject together and taking a more collaborative approach.


    Teaching materials are available to help home-schoolers of nearly any skill level. While some parents teach using only a textbook, other parents find additional guidance useful. For these parents, many companies specialize in full curricula -- some of which are available for free online -- with textbooks, activities and quizzes that guide home-schoolers through the courses. Some of these companies even offer lab kits for physics and biology classes.


    A big part of teaching, regardless of the subject, is getting students to want to learn and engaging them in the material. Going to a science museum or a planetarium while learning about physics or to a zoo when learning about biology can jumpstart a student's curiosity and enrich his understanding. In "Discovering the Mysteries of Museums," an article originally printed in Practical Homeschooling Magazine, Lisa Yoder notes that many museums and zoos offer special educational materials and days, some even specifically designed for home-schoolers, and some will offer pre-tours to educators that include teaching suggestions, which homeschooling parents may be able to take advantage of before they attend with their children.


    Some home-schoolers find that difficult topics are best handled entirely by someone else. This can mean asking another homeschooling parent who is confident teaching calculus, physics or biology to teach their children, possibly in exchange for teaching the other parent's children a topic the first parent is especially competent in. Alternatively, some home-schoolers hire tutors for difficult subjects or enroll their children in classes at local community centers or colleges.

    About the Author

    Steve Foster is an educator with a Master of Arts in English. As a writing instructor, Foster shows students the deep, repeatable logic behind grammar rules and the psychology behind document composition, working from the theory that students engage with and absorb ideas best when those ideas are wrapped in strong context.

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