Encouraging Scientific Thinking
When today's parents were in school, science was typically taught as a dry collection of facts, like other academic subjects. Today, teachers take a different approach, treating science as a way of observing and discovering the world around us. With all the demands of the math and language arts curriculums in 2nd grade, most teachers don't spend time on science each day. Instead, they conduct in-depth explorations of science topics every week or so. These science units include such interactive, hands-on activities as growing plants from seeds, peering into microscopes, hatching butterflies from larvae, and exploring magnetism. Your child will no doubt come home eager to share his excitement over the scientific discoveries she's made in class.
Observing Life Cycles
Science curricula in early elementary school tend to be fairly flexible. School districts generally recommend that teachers touch on each of the three basic academic science areas — life science, physical science, and space science — but what to emphasize is generally left up to individual teachers.
Meanwhile, life science remains a popular focus in 2nd grade. This branch of science, which explores the characteristics of organisms and our environment, is a topic 7 year olds can grasp easily and get excited about.
Encouraging Questioning Minds
Probing more deeply isn't enough to promote science learning however, nor is simply making science entertaining. Educators now recognize that how teachers interact with students is also necessary to imbue scientific thinking in young brains. Good science teachers don't tell their students the answers, but guide them to figure them out the answers themselves.
Science can also be a great way for your child to learn teamwork, since it is a collaborative field. Teachers often have 2nd graders work in groups in science, so they can learn to share and accept ideas graciously — a social skill that most kids this age need to practice.
Investigating How Things Work
Along with everything else, 2nd graders typically study physical science — that is, the properties of energy and nonliving things. They might explore magnetism and electricity and examine various materials under the microscope, such as sugar crystals, sand, and salt.
Learning Through Writing
Most children are reading well enough by 2nd grade that they can explore favorite science topics through nonfiction books. Science also integrates beautifully into this grade's writing curriculum. Your child may be asked to write a research paper on a favorite mammal, which is a great way to not only build on an interest but to boost writing skills. He may start to keep a journal in which he records his observations of class science activities. Children this age sometimes have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction, and a science journal is a practical vehicle for learning the difference.
Looking at science through the prism of different subjects will help your child gain a wide variety of skills and a broad base of knowledge. Learning to think scientifically also boosts problem-solving skills, which will help in all academic, and even social, areas. As your child grows in mind-expanding science skills, she'll grow academically and be more than ready for the increasing demands of 3rd grade.