**Disclaimer: All information on homeschooling methods will be just a generalized and very brief *if I can help it* overview of the method. Every family who uses these methods will of course work them to fit their needs. After each overview I will discuss some of the things I do and don’t like about the method in relation to our family. **

*I already had this typed up and completely forgot to post it before the Unschooling Method post. Anyways, enjoy!*

We are currently experience some “lovely” weather, so hopefully I can present you with two of the last three homeschooling methods posts. I make no promises, but we are new school year quickly approaching I need to churn these out in order to give myself time in the evenings for lesson prep.

So without further adieu here is the Unit Studies Homeschooling Method.

The unit studies method isn’t a set of guidelines, but instead it is a way of handling subjects. With unit studies you take a topic you want to cover, lets say weather, and then you incorporate it into every school subject. Literature would have to deal with weather, Science would discuss the ins and outs of weather, for History/Social Studies you could cover the way weather events have impacted people, and so forth. Unit studies are ideal for families with more than one child *especially large families* the reason for this is because you can pick a topic and then pick the materials that are appropriate for each child’s abilities. Instead of in the traditional method where you cover multiple subjects, with unit studies you are just covering one topic/subject and forming your lessons around that subject.

So instead of having to plan for multiple subjects that all cover various different aspects, you are just planning for that one subject and tweaking the books, hands on activities, etc., for the child who will be using it. Unit studies can also be used with something called lap books, which are basically project books made out of folded file folders and the child fills it with things they have done during the unit, or facts they have learned during the unit. There are kits you can buy or you can do it yourself, whichever works best for your family and your budget.

In some families unit studies are child-led where the child picks the subject/topic they want to learn about and the parent brings in the various elements, unit studies are good for those doing child-led homeschooling but still want some sort of structure/direction in the things being taught.

So a quick recap:

Basically unit studies allow you to teach a topic through the various core elements of schooling (literature, science, history, social studies, math, art, etc.) getting rid of the extra cost in having to buy traditional textbooks or boxed curriculums. Lap books are also used sometimes in this method to help reinforce what has been taught and to also act as a way for the child to look back on what they learned.

So would this method work for us? Yes and no. While it would allow me to just plan for a chosen subject instead of for each grade level, I do like having each individual subject at least in the elementary years. It ensures that we get the basics down, once the boys enter the middle grade levels then I could see us using the unit studies method. It wouldn’t just allow us to save money on textbooks, but also allow us to be on the same page with what we are learning. We wouldn’t use just unit studies though because there are books I want the boys to read that may not fit into an actual unit. Unit studies would also be ideal for our summer learning. In fact that would probably be when it would be used the most if we incorporate them in our learning.

It would allow us to still get in some light schooling that would be mostly reading and hands on activities. I like the idea of lap books and had planned to do something similar to it *like the Good Books advocated in Waldorf Education*.

Could we be strictly unit studies though? No. Not in our heavy schooling times. Textbooks give us a base to spring from, we also don’t teach completely opposite topics. The way we have science and history laid out Child #2 will be learning what Child #1 is learning, he just won’t be expected to retain the things Child #1 will be expected too, at least not yet.

By the time Child #2 is ready for formal lessons he will have a good background just from being present while Child #1 is learning. For instance when formal lessons start for Child #2 we will be back to covering Ancient History so Child #1 will be going more in depth with it while Child #1 is actively learning(retaining) it for the first time. So I will be planning for the same topic just on varying levels *like unit studies, but it will just be for each individual subject*.

I like being able to mix and match things in our schooling, so if they are at the reading level for a great novel like Huck Finn, we don’t have to worry about planning our history around that time period. We can just enjoy the book, learn about it, discuss it, and let it take us wherever. All while still having our separate history lessons that take us where they will take us depending on the time period. For us each subject is like its own separate little world, occasionally they collide, but not always.

So can it work for us: yes to some extent, is it a perfect fit for our family: no. If we had a larger family I could completely see using unit studies exclusively, because it is cost effective, time effective, and does produce great results. But for our goals it alone wouldn’t work.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes


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