Bring science home from school

Isabel Thomas, science writer and children’s author

Primary school is a learning curve for parents as well as children. We get to grips with phonics as we help our children read. We crib up on Greek history to build a model of the Pantheon, make costumes of our child’s favourite fictional characters and celebrate the paintings that come home at the end of term.

Over the first seven years of our child’s education, talking about arts subjects becomes a part of everyday life. But science? Not so much. Let’s focus on the primary school years as an opportunity to get families talking about science at home.

It could start with a blurring of subject boundaries in favour of the STEAM   (combining arts with science, technology, engineering and maths) approach. Project-based learning. Homework that challenges children to create art inspired by science. Displaying children’s inventions at the school fete. A bake-off with a science theme. A culture of ‘science for pleasure’ as well as ‘reading for pleasure’.

The aim is to get families with low ‘science capital’ talking about science at home. To encourage them to track down some of the amazing resources that are out there – not only to support their children at school, but to answer their own curious questions. Primary teachers are skilled at integrating science and the arts and they have experience in engaging parents. The opportunity is huge. But ultimately we need policy change: a greater focus on – and celebration of – creative interdisciplinary teaching in schools.

Isabel Thomas is a science writer and children’s author. Her books have been shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize, the ASE Science Book of the Year, and the Blue Peter Book Awards. Isabel also writes for children’s science magazine Whizz Pop Bang, and for science outreach projects including and Parents for STEM Futures. She is a primary school governor and blogs about early years and primary education for Oxford Education and Oxford Owl.

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