Basically, a unit study takes a central theme and builds lessons around that theme. One theme will include all or most areas of study by focusing on the main idea.
For example, the main theme could be rocks. You could build a rock garden and study Japanese culture (art and history), study the different types of rocks or the process of erosion (science), read books that deal with rocks or look up references to rocks in the Bible (literature), spell the different kinds of rocks (spelling/vocabulary), importance of rocks to cultures throughout history (history), and so on.
Many homeschool families choose to use a separate math curriculum, but you may integrate math in your unit studies as well, especially for younger children.
Advantages of a Unit Study Curriculum
There are many advantages to using the unit study approach to learning.
1. Children tend to retain, on average, 45% more information for a longer period of time using thematic units as opposed to traditional textbooks.
2. Homeschooling unit studies allow you to teach multiple grade levels using the same theme. You will simply adjust the content to fit each child’s ability. This way, the prep time is dramatically decreased and children learn more.
3. The older kids can help the younger and the younger can learn from exposure to the older kids’ lessons.
4. There are also many different ways to teach unit studies, which make them perfect for children with learning disabilities or a different learning style.
5. It can be a inexpensive homeschooling option for those who create their own unit study.
Disadvantages of Homeschool Unit Studies
While there are many advantages, there can be some disadvantages to unit studies as well:
1. It is often necessary to use an additional math curriculum since it is such a specific and complex subject.
2. It also takes a lot of time to prepare for a unit study. (Though, keep in mind that preparing lessons for 3 kids for 7 different subjects can be even more time consuming!)
3. Homeschool unit studies can be difficult for parents who favor the structure of a more traditional approach.
4. Unit studies are not as tidy as workbooks and textbooks (but they can sometimes be a whole lot more fun for both the parents and the students!)
Unit Study Curriculum Choices
Unit studies are a great choice for homeschooling families who are looking for a way to teach their children in a fun way. It helps kids to retain the information longer and is easy to adapt for multiple grade levels. Although it is not as structured as textbook learning, unit studies continue to be a fun way to help children learn.
- Homeschooling Methods (socyberty.com)