A popular hands-on approach to homeschooling is the unit studies method of homeschooling. Unit studies are also called integrated studies or thematic studies.
The Unit Studies Method of Homeschooling
The unit studies method of homeschooling uses your child’s interests as a launching pad for study. It then builds a unit of study around it, tying in subjects like reading, spelling, math, science, art, and history. Using your child’s natural interests as a launching pad ensures that they will remain engaged and interested in the topic. Unit studies immerse your child in a topic and promote integrated learning.
It’s easy to find packaged unit studies using the search engine on your computer. Pinterest is a veritable treasure trove of unit studies ranging from composers, inventors, and presidents to gardening and the weather. Unit studies can be literature based, as well. You can also plan your own unit studies. Simply pick a theme, grab your supplies, make a PLAN, and select activities to go along with your theme. Lapbooks and notebooks are a great way to record your unit study. You can find lapbooks for your theme or make your own.
Planning ahead is key when using unit studies for the bulk of your homechool year. After deciding which themes you’d like to cover in the year, you need to determine which subjects (i.e. math, science, spelling, etc) each unit study should cover. The length of time devoted to each unit study can vary. You may want a short unit study to drive home a science concept or you may want a multi-week unit study to constitute a course of science.
Choosing books for your unit study is important. Find the books that you own related to the theme of the study. Then search your local library and Amazon for additional titles.
Most unit studies also have some sort of fun project to round them out. For the creative types, it’s easy enough to come up with ideas that will delight your kids. If you’re anything like me, there is always Pinterest. Simply search pinterest for the study topic and tack on the words “unit study”, “craft” or “activities” to find ideas. Be sure to save them all to a board for that theme, so you can find them easily again.
Flexibility and realistic expectations are the final ingredients of a fantastic unit study. Chances are your four year old will not make a scale model of the lunar landing (your eight grader might), but they can use modeling clay to make a moon.
The cool thing about unit studies is that they tend to keep the kids interested.
When to Consider the Unit Studies Method
- Ability to teach multiple ages and levels with one lesson
- Need for low or no cost curricula that you can find easily or create on your own
- Desire to encourage mastery of a subject before moving on
- Prefer versatility of using multiple media in lessons
- Desire to use hands-on projects and activities to reinforce learning
Not sure what theme to do a unit study on? Ask your kids what they want to learn about. They are sure to have plenty of ideas to get you started.
Unit studies can be used as the bulk of curricula or as a break from regular studies.