Years Later … have you ever asked them what they remember?

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  • Claire

    As an experiment I thought I’d ask the kids what they remembered about the 3 sciences we’ve studied for a full year each.

    Here is how I’ve done science in our home school, as background.

    Grades 2-6 (see exception) – in these years I followed a very CM method or approach.  I would do three terms with three different sciences.  We had a reading list we worked through, hands on projects we made, field trips and experiments we participated in and we narrated following the age/frequency that you normally see for these ages.

    Grades 8-12 – when my oldest hit 8th grade (meaning the youngest was only in 6th) I changed everything.  We switched to two semester years instead of three term years.  I chose to do one full year of science with both kids and use a textbook as a spine to take us systematically through the science.  I added a reading list of living books for the science of the year.  I had them do narrations on their readings following the age/frequency that you normally see in these ages, they performed labs with their textbook, we took field trips, they drew and created projects, they designed foldables as well as took end of chapter reviews and did pop quizzes along the way.

    Disclaimer – my children are not really jazzed by the study of science.  I don’t think I have anyone who will go in to a field of science, although one thinks about engineering right now.  This summer it occurred to me (after reading/learning more, thinking about our new year coming up) that maybe they had learned more or less by the second method?  Maybe there was something that was more effective?  Some piece or part that resonated more?  Or less?

    So, I asked.  I said: write down everything you remember from these three years.  I’m waiting to see the results.

    Have you ever asked your children what they remember years later?  Will you share what you discovered?

    I do end of term exams like CM did.  I’m usually very happy with those results or not surprised by where there is a deficiency of knowledge.  But this was different … I wanted to know what had stuck, what had really gotten under their skin …. and stayed over time?


    I should add, for clarity, that when I did the switcharoo explained above I knew I had two students that were two years apart.  I modified everything to be age appropriate – just as you would do if you had multiple ages narrating in, say History, or another family subject.  I kept a fair expectation for their age.


    Wow. I can’t wait to hear what they say! You’re brave! I’m afraid my girls would say, “nothin'” 😶


    It was interesting.  Ha ha!  Isn’t that the universal “ahem” of responses?!  They did recall quite a lot that they had studied.  Obviously, for time purposes they didn’t detail every little topic that they jotted down but if they did write it down it was one they knew (that was our set up).  I wasn’t crying after I saw what they wrote.

    What stuck and why?  To this they responded along their learning styles – my hands on learner remembered better when he’d done things or had visuals.  The other liked it more when she’d written it out in note form or had done problems with it.  Both said they wished they had experienced more of the science in the real world.

    I knew I had done moderate experiments in all three sciences- not great, not horrible.  I knew I had wished we’d spent many more hours in the field on all three too but that never seemed feasible.  I can’t afford to outfit a whole lab in my home (even the paired down lab set ups and materials often sited for homeschooling) and I never had the time in the days to devote to long labs that might have to be repeated (more time) when they didn’t go quite right.  I see now some real, hard evidence for science education with this component.  It clearly isn’t as good without it.

    Then I asked them this:  “Did your study inform your world?  Did you find the science around you and were you impressed by that or not?”  To this they responded pretty lukewarmly … they weren’t that curious they said about the “why” of their world or they weren’t overly astonished at the facts when they learned them but instead just thought “ok, cool, that’s how or why that works or happens” … which I was dumbfounded by!  Really?  Geez, note to self – try to find ways to add curiosity to your kids!  😉

    Interestingly, my son said “Mom, I don’t make those connections as much with science as I do with history.  Every time I hear of somewhere in the news, I think about the history behind those peoples and that area of the world.  Maybe I just love history more?”  That’s kind of an aha moment.  I’ve always known their preferences and the subjects they gave more attention to but it was neat to hear him verbalize it that way.

    For what it is worth … this was a good exercise.  I recommend you take the plunge and see what’s sticking and what’s not.  Each kid gave me a lot of feedback on the texts, books, activities we’d done too.  Valuable information as I plan the new year.


    I think you asking them is such a good idea! I will have to think about it and come up with some ques for my girls.

    Thanks for reporting back, too.



    I love how your son expressed his interest in history over science.
    I do think that people just gravitate to certain subjects. For my oldest it was history. He liked science okay but just devoured history. For my second, it was the opposite – he loved science but just tolerated history. They were taught together for everything all the way through since they are only 12 months apart and yet have very different memories and interests so I’m not sure that there is anything I could have done to change that.
    I think it’s a win that your kids remember good amounts of what they were exposed to over the years!

    Thanks for sharing!

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