Friday, April 10, 2009

High School Chemistry In Your Home

My Dad would have loved Bridget Ardoin’s, High School Chemistry In Your Home. He was a research chemist and constantly made our home a place for chemistry study. I can remember sitting around the dinner table at night and not being able to refill my glass of water without running commentary from my Dad about the properties of H2O. Salt was not salt, but sodium chloride. He was relentless and bored my brother and I to tears. Now that I am "old and wise" I credit his passion for education as lighting in me a love for educating my children at home.

High School level science study can seem dreadful to someone entering the high school years for the first time. High School Chemistry In Your Home is designed to aid parents in mentoring their teen through the educational process rather than requiring them to pretend to be an all knowing teacher. In fact, according to author Bridget Ardoin, “That's the reason I wrote these curriculums designed for the homeschooling family. They are designed to be academically challenging for the student and parent-friendly for YOU!” Ardoin also carries High School Physical Science In Your Home and High School Biology In Your Home on her website,

Ardoin’s wealth of experience stems from a degree in microbiology obtained from Louisiana State University, being the mother of 5 and a homeschool parent for 12+ years and teaching high school level science courses in private schools and tutorially since the early 1990’s. According to Ardoin, she has “encouraged home school high schoolers in learning chemistry since 1999."

Ardoin’s Chemistry course purposefully differs from a standard textbook curriculum. She explains the difference on page 6 of her curriculum guide. “At first I taught directly from a textbook. Being the home schooler that I am, I was not satisfied with the textbook: I continued to change the order of the subject matter. I wanted to emphasize to the student that textbooks are tools, and from experience, I saw a need for a different way to learn chemistry.”

High School Chemistry in Your Home will guide students through a process of research, experimentation and discovery. The curriculum consists of a student manual filled with questions ready to be answered, a lab manual with complete instructions and explanations, a parents manual with sample answers for the student manual, and weekly or bi-weekly tests and quizzes.

When I first looked at the text it reminded me of a blank textbook waiting for details to be filled in by the student. The student manual is divided into two semesters of work with 12 weeks of topics plus a review week in the first semester and 13 weeks of topics and a review week in the second semester. The review weeks are provided at the end of each semester for comprehensive study for a mid-term and final exam. Ardoin has provided a great deal of flexibility with her curriculum by only including 26 weeks of topics, allowing students the opportunity to focus on a particular topic for longer than one week if desired.

Evaluation of the weekly essay questions and experiments is easily completed by utilizing the teacher’s manual that includes an answer for all questions and complete directions and explanations of the labs. Students are encouraged to work independently four days a week then meet with Mom or Dad for discussion on the fifth day. Keeping this sort of schedule is a great way for high school students to learn time management with their studies. Weekly or bi-weekly quizzes are included for additional evaluation along with two semester final exams.

Student and teacher manuals are sold as a set for $79.99. Customers can purchase a complete lab kit with the manuals for $115.00 or the lab kit separately for $49.99. On-line shopping, samples and other helpful background information regarding the curriculum is available on the High School Science In Your Home website found here.

All of my highschool aged students have completed their courses in Chemistry so our family was not able to test drive this unique curriculum per se. I was interested in reading within the curriculum guide, however that Ardoin was approached by Konos rep, Linda Gomez when she first began offering chemistry classes in 1999. Our family has benefited from learning the Konos way over the years and I can testify that despite its non-traditional, play-like educational method it works, works, works.

For family's looking for a little something different for their high school science classes I highly recomend seeking out the Science in Your Home series of courses. I can speak from experience that this very Konos-like style of education provides wonderful memory anchors for information. High School Chemistry in the Home will provide an experience for your high schoolers not just information. Through their research, hands-on dissections, discussion and finally testing, students will not just study Chemistry, but live it.

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