Homeschooling: Thinking About Diving into Unit Studies?

Posted on November 14, 2012 at 12:00 AM

"I love unit studies and I cannot lie."  But I better restrain myself because my initial draft on this blog post was 6 pages.  When I think about sharing what swirls around in my head and what I am so passionate about, I get plain giddy.

Cutting this back to readable mode, I want to share a few pointers from my sweat and tears to help you put together a unit study.  A do and don't list approach to unit studies keeps things simple for me to remember.

1.  Do not think you have to incorporate every single subject into the topic. It just makes me exhausted thinking about it.  With the over abundance of curriculum available, use what you have in your home already to cover subjects that don't fit naturally. 

Covering topics that your family finds more captivating  keeps the unit study meaningful, so focus on what captivates you.  Find your family's groove and move on.

That simple tidbit keeps the stress level down and energy level up for learning.

2 . Do not  have an unrealistic view of the in-depth planning that may need to be done on the front side. I know it doesn't sound very flattering but I have to be realistic. Who is afraid of hard work anyway?  After all we are homeschooling our kids, which a lot of people, find over the top hard.

On the other hand, along with hard work comes a very REWARDING pay off. My sons remember the material we cover from unit studies more than any other approach I have used.

For certain units it has meant a level of mastery approved by me on the initial study. 

3. Do not be setback, if at first, your children do not respond to this new way of learning. It has such wide spread freedom that not everybody feels so comfortable with it.  An older child may want a check off list for the day.  Make them one or better yet have them journal what they learned in their student planner.  I do not make my boys do this every day now.

You may want a check off list. You know how I feel about my 7 Step Curriculum Planner. I use it. At first, we all did journaling so I could gauge progress. I needed to see what we have done.

1.  Do understand the basic definition of a unit study THEN redefine it to meet your needs.

One very simple definition of a unit study is to use any curriculum available {free or otherwise} to teach your children about a topic. I can go one step further for you and define curriculum. Curriculum includes books, workbooks, DVDS, CDS, a set of subjects, life’s experiences AND parental influences, social situations, hands on experiments, games, lessons learned from everyday contact or modeled by peers, family or other adults.

 Some homeschoolers use only real books and others will incorporate text books. I blogged in a previous post what my definition is of a unit study.  "I define a unit study as a study on any subject that delights us."

True, while I lean more toward living books,  I never close my mind toward a wonderful text book. World Physical Geography by Brenda Runkle is an example of one we like and are using.

2.  Do recognize which subjects are easier to cover in a unit study and which ones are not. Too, this depends on the topic. I have listed them here generally. Just remember this is subjective because some units can be very language arts or math oriented.

Subjects easier to cover: history, science, art, Bible, memorization, geography, art, vocabulary, literature, composition, character building, music and physical education.

Subjects not as easy to incorporate, so we will not if it doesn't come naturally: math, grammar, spelling, phonics {books can be readers but learning how to read with direct phonics instruction is important.}

3. Do  keep in mind introductions and first impressions are everything. The same is true with a unit study.

Though many unit study ideas say to have an ending event to culminate the unit study, I find it equally important to open with something that grabs their attention and whets their appetite.

With the FBI unit study, we watched a documentary on the FBI {pop some popcorn, oh yeah baby}. On the Amazon rain forest we also watched a documentary about the rain forest. On War Between the 'Tates, we had my sweet sis come over who did American Civil War reenactments. She helped us to step back in time. My sons remember those events.

It could be something as simple as reading a book, solving a mystery, playing a game or visiting a museum to set the mood.

Lastly, I put to picture, what I feel, is the process to a unit study.

I updated my visual and explained the I SIP process which stands for immersion, separation, investigation and personalization of the material. Go here to read that.

Do you want to read more?

Read about my free unit study printable.

Snoring boring, Give Unit Studies a Try

Understanding the process is key to developing a unit study that is memorable. Don't rush the unit study because you may miss out on how learning comes alive and actually takes place.

I am inspired by this quote today as we take the responsibility in educating the next generation.

"Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else's hands, but not you."

~Jim Rohn~

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 Hugs you know I love ya,



Categories: New Bee Articles-Homeschool Approaches, {How To Series}, Unit Studies