Waiting with bated breath, I am beyond excited in sharing my first series of the year which is 10 Days of Diving into Unit Studies by Creating A Unit Study Together because it is about a subject that I am passionate about.
I have not always felt so dedicated to the method of teaching using unit studies. Like a lot of homeschoolers, I too fell victim to the rank and file sort of mind-set when it came to picking out curriculum and teaching my children. It is not that I didn’t want to try something different, I was just afraid to mess my kids up for life.
Too, if I had a step by step guide, I think I would have felt more comfortable easing down the unit study trail.
While I am confessing, I might as well tell you too that I felt like the unit study approach was for those “other” homeschoolers. The ones who were crafty and had to have crafts in their homes. How could they possibly learn anything by “playing” all day? Me? I had just assume throw a bunch of papers at the kids for them to complete and then everybody would know for sure we were homeschooling. Ouch.
Besides, the unit study approach didn’t mesh with my bent toward the classical approach of homeschooling. Or so I thought at the time anyway.
Whatever you think of homeschoolers that use unit studies, one thing that is not debated is that it works for all ages of children. It is a classic way of teaching all of your children together.
I think the best way to illustrate the energizing affect of a unit study is for us to do one together as we plod along in this series. What do you think? You can create one that you’re interested in right alongside the one I will be designing.
Just a reminder too before I get too far off track here and that is most of the time I never do my blogging series one day right after the other. I have too much to say other things to talk about so I plod along and give you time to catch up. Or like in this series, it will hopefully give you time to plan right alongside me. No rush.
How to Adopt a Definition that Works
There are many definitions for unit studies. The definition for a unit study is that there are no rules. That may sound a bit cliché, but in order to embrace unit studies you have to let go of the thinking that we have-to do anything. No, I’m not encouraging homeschool rebels, but I am encouraging you to avoid homeschooling robots.
From the beginning, adopting a definition of a unit study allays many fears or doubts because you will follow the definition that fits your family. How does this help you? Because you can use as many or as little laid out subjects right alongside the ones you create. Unit studies are a lot like cooking for your family. Deciding which ingredients you buy prepackaged and which ones you make by hand is your choice. Knowing which ingredients your family loathes, which ingredients they love and which foods they need for their health are decisions only you can make too. Don’t make unit studies harder by adopting a rigid definition.
Adopting a definition that fits your family will be the determining factor if you lap one up or lag in enthusiasm to get started.
Here is my definition that I adopted.
Choosing any topic, book or discipline (subject) and building a number of study days, weeks, months or a year designed specifically for my family by incorporating a few or all academic areas of study on that one topic, book or discipline and sprinkling easy hands-on ideas throughout the course of our study.
How does your definition sound?
Clinging to the idea of a unit study approach is not easy if you don’t have a clear vision of how it will affect your family or your reasons for adding it to your school.
Small Idea, Big Payoff
Instead of talking homeschoolers into investigating unit studies, I share what has worked for my family. Too, I don’t talk folks into trying unit studies because it is not for everyone.
Unit studies can be a lot of work and time consuming. I have never been afraid of working hard and especially if I knew that I would have titanic results. A unit study can be totally child-led or not. I am not an advocate of child-led learning in the absolute meaning of the definition because parents are essential to daily guiding the child to the basics of what he needs to learn. On the other hand, children do start learning the day they are born and unless we feed and follow their craving for learning we may be severely limiting their potential.
Look at some ways a unit study has benefited my family.
- Research skills by the child on a unit study subject fertilizes the ground for a life-long intellect.
- Children are not passive learners waiting for the next chapter to be assigned to them. Seizing the opportunities for learning because they have had a say in the topic or unit study solidifies in their mind the value of their education. Instead of constantly struggling with our children to help them treasure the value of their education, they are now partners with us.
- At the very core of unit studies are living books or resources that are used to stir the imagination. Unlike most textbooks which can be designed to extract every enjoyment of pleasure from a topic, living books spark a fondness for continued learning. Even if you are using a reference based source, the sheer enjoyment of capturing the interests of your children develops a love for learning from an early age.
- Though tough at times, managing multiple ages of children who are learning the same topic together fosters a mastery level of that topic.
- As children become masters of their own learning, the preconceived idea that children have to be limited in their knowledge to a grade level which is based on personal whims of public educators is not brought into our homeschool. With standards across school, children normally spend a great amount of wasted and meaningless time covering the same subjects over and over again in each grade. Take a look at the Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto.
- As much as I had preferred my children just do worksheets, hands-on projects have shown to increase a child’s knowledge of that subject. Much research has been written on the value of hands-on projects and yes crafts.
- Your family can cover an in-depth study the first time around. Avoid wasting time and reduce educational boredom by broadening the depth of the topic initially.
Have you decided yet? Will you dive into a homeschool unit study?
Follow along as we create a unit study together step by step. Decide the topic you need for your family and I will share my topic next that I need to plan.
Hugs and you know I love ya,