All children have their own preferences and likes when it comes to the subjects that they learn about at school.
Some children, for instance, may take easily to art and English classes, while others prefer history or languages. Some children may even prefer maths and the sciences over other subjects.
Although every child is different, and as such will like different subjects compared to their peers, often the more scientific subjects on a school’s curriculum have a reputation for being:
- Difficult; or even
Chemistry, unfortunately, seems to have fallen into this category and as a result is classed by many as a “difficult” subject. While it’s understandable that some children may be averse to the sciences – for example, if their maths skills aren’t quite up to par – there’s no reason why the vast majority of children shouldn’t be able to do well in their chemistry lessons, regardless of whether they would like to pursue chemistry at A-Level, university, or beyond.
One way that the sciences such as chemistry can gain back their reputation as being “fun” subjects is to try and encourage children, even from a young age, to take an active interest in chemistry, maths, and the other sciences. Doing this should hopefully make the subject feel more accessible to every child, and hopefully will improve that child’s chances of doing well in the subject at school.
With that in mind, below are a few ways that could be used to encourage children to be more engaged with the world of chemistry, and hopefully by implication its neighbouring subjects.
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Chemistry For Kids: Every Child Is Capable
One of the biggest issues in combating the perception of chemistry as a difficult subject is the fact that there’s a common belief among many parents and students that chemistry, along with any science subject, is inherently difficult and therefore only students who are academically gifted should be good at such subjects.
In reality, there could be a variety of different reasons why children struggle to do well in their chemistry, physics, or biology lessons.
For instance, one potential issue could be the fact that the teacher is not particularly effective at communicating key topic areas in the curriculum, or perhaps they struggle to deal with an unruly class, which in turn has an adverse effect on how much the entire class can learn during a lesson.
However, it’s not always, or even sometimes, the teacher’s fault. Another reason why children may struggle to do well in chemistry may be down to a lack of knowledge of the basics of chemistry on the part of the student or child.
For instance, a pupil may struggle in chemistry if they:
- Aren’t aware of at least the most well-known elements in the periodic table;
- Haven’t mastered particular areas of maths, which are used to solve chemical equations; or
- They haven’t grasped the basics of chemistry, such as chemical bonding, chemical states, the differences between acids and alkalis, or the difference between a molecule and an atom.
Thankfully, such issues can be easily rectified, especially if a child is taught about such topics or concepts early on.
For example, if you’ve noticed that your child appears to be struggling in maths, then it might be an idea to get them a tutor, such as a chemistry tutor from Superprof, to help bring their knowledge in line with expectations.
Equally, you could encourage your child to learn about the basics of chemistry through more interactive media, whether that’s listening to a podcast by the Royal Society of Chemistry or reading an educational book about chemistry that is aimed at children, such as the Horrible Science book series.
6 Ways To Help Your Kids Learn Chemistry At Home
Of course, another great way to inspire your child to learn more about the world of chemistry is to have them learn more about the subject at home.
This approach can help regardless of whether your child is currently too young to attend school or is currently studying chemistry through a school curriculum.
By having your child learn about chemistry outside of school, you can help develop or tease out any interest that your child has in the subject, which should in turn help to:
- Improve their marks in chemistry lessons (if they currently have chemistry lessons);
- Reinforce the idea that sciences don’t have to be boring to study; and
- Make your child more receptive to further study in a science such as physics, chemistry, or biology, and perhaps even excited about a potential future career as a chemist or a scientist.
Broadly speaking, six good tips to help develop your child’s interest in chemistry outside of the classroom include:
- Spending extra time on homework assignments when at home;
- Watching educational programmes that help develop a child’s understanding of the principles of chemistry;
- Playing around with different chemistry sets at home;
- Trying out a safe, home-made chemistry experiment or two using household ingredients;
- Reading a range of chemistry books that are designed with younger readers in mind; and
- Taking your child to a science museum or science-based event such as a science fair.
If you want to set up a chemistry set for your child, remember that you don't need to necessarily buy lots of measuring beakers, tests tubes, or even a microscope, as the aim isn't to recreate a full science laboratory. Equally, you might even find a chemistry set that you can buy in the shops if you don't feel comfortable creating your own.
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For some ideas of fun educational programmes that you could introduce your child to, there is a range of programmes out there, which you can often find through a quick search on the internet.
These programmes also come in a variety of lengths. The BBC, for instance, has some short videos which can be helpful in learning about some basics in chemistry such as the periodic table. On the other hand, programmes such as Bill Nye the Science Guy are a little longer and cover a range of topics.
So whether your child enjoys watching a science demonstration that teaches them about basic chemistry such as atoms and atomic structure, or they prefer to watch a more active science experiment featuring fizzy drinks, bubbles or bright colours, there's a good chance that there's a programme out there that will satisfy their curiosity.
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Fun Chemistry Experiments For Kids
Finally, one of the best ways you can teach your children about the world of chemistry, and hopefully develop their interest in the subject, is through the use of chemistry experiments.
Let’s face it – chemistry experiments are fun. Often, they involve a variety of chemical reactions that usually look quite cool or are dramatic visually-speaking.
It’s for this reason that chemistry experiments are a great way to introduce your child to the world of chemistry or to help teach them further about particular topics in chemistry, such as the states of matter, which comprise solids, liquids, and gases.
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There are plenty of different science experiments that you can try with your child, with just a few suggestions below:
- The Mentos and Diet Coke volcano, or volcano using baking soda and vinegar;
- Creating and testing invisible ink;
- Making slime, a rocket, or sugar crystals; or
- Experimenting with static electricity or magnets.
However, before you undertake any science experiments with your child, it's important to make sure of the following:
- That the area is safe to use for any experimenting (for instance, you don’t want to make a Mentos and Diet Coke volcano anywhere indoors, unless you want to soak the room!);
- That the materials used in the science experiment are safe for both you and your child; and
- That the experiment is age-appropriate for your child and that your child has appropriate supervision.
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Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but the aim is to make sure that you and your child experience some fun science while also remaining safe as you conduct and observe the science experiment.
If you need any help teaching your child more about chemistry, then remember that it’s also perfectly acceptable to reach out for help. Speaking to a chemistry teacher for some ideas on fun experiments, for instance, can be a great way to find fun ideas for experiments that you may not have thought of yourself or found online.
Equally, you can always reach out to a chemistry tutor on Superprof if you’d also like to help your child learn about the principles of chemistry in a more structured way. Lessons can either be held remotely or online, so it’s just a case of deciding which tuition method would work best for you and your child.