Switching your homeschool approach to a unit study one even for just a day may be the answer to breaking out of a boring routine.
If your child is not challenged with your current approach, look at these 10 tips that make you rethink what you know about homeschool unit studies.
1. Unit Studies Work Across the Board
Homeschool unit studies are for any type of learner. Whether a child is a hands-on or hands-off learner, the freedom to passionately pursue a topic to a learner’s delight without time constraints is the incentive.
2. Unit Studies Mesh Well with Other Approaches
A unit study approach can easily be combined with another homeschool approach. Don’t give up facets of other homeschool approaches you like. The most successful homeschoolers are ones that don’t take an all-or-nothing attitude when choosing an approach.
Adding in a time tested technique like reading a living book from the Charlotte Mason approach or memorizing a list from the classical approach easily becomes part of a unit study.
3. Your Existing Curriculum Can Be the Base for a Unit Study
You can create an awesome unit study from curriculum you already own. If you only have boxed curriculum or a textbook, no problem. Using one or more chapters or sections as a guide, cover only what interests your family.
Additional hands-on activities, living books and other subtopics can be searched for on the internet.
An unexpected benefit of doing a chapter unit study is that you can move faster through a textbook because you’re teaching only significant events or facts.
4. Unit Studies Are Ideal for Teaching Multiple Ages
In fact, if you’re teaching multiple ages, you may already be doing a unit study. Homeschool moms of multiples share a common bond, which is that we know we’re outnumbered. Bringing the kids together to learn is key to saving our sanity.
Learning how to bring your kids together to do one or more lessons is the beginning of how to teach a unit study.
5. Assessment Can Be Part of a Great Homeschool Unit Study
Completing a test doesn’t always prove mastery of the concepts. I learned other ways for my children to demonstrate mastery of the material.
Look at a few of these ideas for projects.
- Have your child produce a video. Having a channel on YouTube is a super way to track progress.
- Use narration for younger children for them to recall facts and use it with older children who struggle with articulating their ideas.
- Invite extended family over for a show and tell.
- Create a Jeopardy game to play and review.
- My older sons prepared PowerPoint presentations.
- Design a model. When we were studying about the rain forest, one of my sons made a model of an animal cell and labeled it. I knew exactly what he did and did not know.
6. Unit Studies Are Perfect for Research
Research skills are learned naturally instead of taught as a specific subject. While researching a topic which captures a child’s attention, he not only gets immediate rewards for what he wants to know, but sees real value in what he is learning.
I encouraged my children to add an idea they discovered about our current topic to an index card. Little did they know while they were satisfying their curiosity, they were also becoming budding researchers.
7. Unit Studies Are Easy to Plan
Forget long-drawn-out teacher planning. If you do a unit study just for the day you can call yourself a unit study homeschooler.
While time consuming planning may seem like a negative when doing unit studies, the reality of it is that with any homeschool approach time planning is involved.
Learning one simple unit study a day keeps them spontaneous and specialized without being stressful.
8. Unit Studies Allow Independent Learning
Unit studies keep your high school kids close while allowing them to exercise independence. As my sons entered high school and craved independence and time away from their siblings, I had to redefine our unit study definition.
Instead of giving up unit studies, I added two time periods in our day for them. One period was in the morning when my high school teen joined us and the other was a time of our choosing when it was just the younger boys.
9. Unit Studies Allow for Pursing Passions
Moving from teaching subjects to teaching students is central to homeschooling but that concept is at the very core of unit studies. Child-led interests shouldn’t trump your teaching goals, but teaching students what interests them doesn’t kill their love for learning.
10. Unit Studies Teach Soft Skills
Creativity, communication and critical thinking skills are naturally payoffs. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone of what you know. What you don’t want to do at the end of your journey is regret not having tried a unit study or two.
What do your children want to learn about right now?