Unit Studies for homeschoolers are powerhouse resources.
They use all the subjects, to teach all the children, using all the learning styles.
Typically a unit study is a theme, or topic, based teaching method that incorporates a range of subjects and learning styles. It has a holistic approach to learning. Children can discover the many facets and deepen their understanding of a topic. Art, science, literature, social studies and more can all be taught using one core topic.
Unit studies can be prepared on your own or they can be purchased as a pre packaged unit.
Some homeschooling families use unit study as their primary homeschool method and others (like me) use it as a short term break to our regular homeschool routine.
I love unit studies because the whole family can work on the same theme together. It’s an excellent one room school house resource. It reduces teaching time and encourages group work.
Unit studies occupy fiddly fingers whilst stimulating children to a deeper understanding of a topic.
Using this themed approach utilizes a variety of learning styles, this helps a child’s brain to stay actively engaged and consolidates learning. Retention of the topic is also reported to be much greater when using unit studies.
Lapbooks are a popular unit study used with young primary children. This method incorporates lots of hands on work whilst digging deeper into a topic.
Here are some example lapbook unit studies:
Literature based unit studies use a well chosen living book as the central theme to teach a variety of subjects.
Have a look at these examples:
Used wisely homeschooling unit studies can inspire a wonder of learning and give mum and the kids a holiday from regular school work.
My children loved deviating from the school routine to spend time creating and working on a project (unit study). They didn’t think of it as work, it was fun.
Short term projects gave them a sense of accomplishment and they had something special to show visitors.
A criticism of unit studies is that there can be too much work collecting resources and preparing the study. At first it is quite normal to feel a lack of confidence when it comes to preparing unit studies. That is why I thoroughly recommend you try a prepackaged mini unit study before you try to prepare your own.
The Five in A Row curriculum was the first unit study we used. This excellent literature unit study showed me how to make my own. I then started collecting my own set of Australian literature unit studies and that is how Australian Book Traveller started.
With practice putting a unit study together can be fun and a learning experience in itself. Our main job is to find the resources and act as mentors to our children. We do not need to be experts, we just need to find them.
Here are a few ideas that I have found help me prepare a unit study.
A change is as good as a holiday or familiarity breeds contempt.
Whilst unit studies can be a welcome break from the regular routine, they can also become dry and uninspiring if overused or used unwisely.
You can avoid unit study burnout by: