Many American youngsters just don’t get enough instruction in science. In fact, some observers say this is the most neglected major subject in elementary school. The National Science Foundation reports that, in 1993, the average “self-contained” classroom in grades one to three (i.e., one in which the same teacher teaches all subjects) spent twenty-four minutes a day of science. In grades four to six, the average was thirty-six minutes a day. That may be enough in some schools-if the curriculum is dynamic and the teacher really knows what she’s doing-but it’s hard to imagine learning a whole lot of science in half an hour or less. In many places real time on task is actually far less than that. “There are element teachers who will pick up a picture book on snails, read [to the students], and consider that their forty-five minutes a week on science says one California educator. Unless your child has reached an age at which he’s attending a Separate science class, it will be hard to assess exactly how much time is spent on this subject. Keep an eye on homework. How much is science related, compared with other subjects? How often does he get science...

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