Family engagement has a direct positive impact on a student’s learning success. During every step of the learning process, students must have the opportunity to process information. Families should facilitate discussions that engage students in meaningful conversation about what they're learning at school, including during science instruction. When students have these conversations at home, it enriches their learning experience at school and allows them to make more meaningful connections. Discussions provide students with opportunities to communicate their current understanding.
To support you in engaging in scientific discourse with your student, we've included some questions that may guide your conversations.
Support Students in Digging Deeper
During conversations, you can try to push your student’s thinking by asking them some of the questions that follow.
- What do you mean by that?
- What is your main point?
- What is your evidence?
- Could you give an example?
- Why do you think that?
- What do you think caused that?
The PhD Science® modules provide a great opportunity for engaging families and caregivers in academic content and conversations. Learning about the topics in which they have become experts can be a joyful, engaging experience for families—and lead to a desire for continued exploration and learning.
If your student is using PhD Science at school, you’ll find a Family Tip Sheet available for each module that outlines the module concepts and includes ideas on how you can support your student at home. The goal of these suggestions is to help students see that science is everywhere and knowledge building is not limited to school.
If your student is not currently using PhD Science, you can still embrace your student’s natural curiosity and engage in conversation about how the natural world works. Students may make observations and have science-related questions as they go about their everyday life. You can further support your student’s learning by watching science-related videos or documentaries or by visiting a museum, park, or zoo.
For more support of science learning at home, we’ve provided some at-home, hands-on activities that could lend themselves to further science conversations. Science is all around us. Below are some science topic suggestions that could be discussed that provide real-world connections.
- When walking around your neighborhood or community, wonder aloud about why certain grass may be greener or perhaps brown; consider why certain plants are in bloom; and discuss butterflies, birds, and other animals you see.
- Depending on the time of day, observe and talk about the sun, moon, and/or stars.
- Discuss the science behind how your student’s bicycle, scooter, or skateboard moves by bringing up forces of motion. Consider pushes and pulls, how forward motion works, what forces are at play, and what may stop or change their direction.
- Discuss how light is used to tell a story with shadow puppets. Students also could consider what light sources are in their home (lamps, overhead lights, and more) and in the world around them (sunlight, streetlamps, and more) and how shadows are formed in those environments.
- Talk about windmills and how they produce energy. Consider watching the film The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
These resources and more are available to you, whether or not your student is using PhD Science. Support science learning at home by having rich conversations around what students are learning at school and helping them see all the connections to science in their everyday life.
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Great Minds PBC is a public benefit corporation and a subsidiary of Great Minds, a nonprofit organization. A group of education leaders founded Great Minds® in 2007 to advocate for a more content-rich, comprehensive education for all children. In pursuit of that mission, Great Minds brings together teachers and scholars to create exemplary instructional materials that provide joyful rigor to learning, spark and reward curiosity, and impart knowledge with equal parts delight.