Getting Started: Homeschool Using Unit Studies
Unit studies are very popular as a homeschool teaching method. They are essentially thematic units that work to encompass all or most subjects through the study of just one topic. For example, a homeschool history unit study might contain history, math, reading, writing, geography, spelling and more. Instead of studying several separate subjects, a unit study allows the homeschooler to learn several different subjects as they relate to one another.
All too often, especially in traditional educational settings, students become bored and lose their natural love for learning. Instead of really absorbing information, they begin to memorize for the sole purpose of passing tests. Though it may seem that students have learned because they earn good test scores, they actually end up forgetting much of what they memorized. This is because they weren't able to develop any real enthusiasm for the topic. Furthermore, many textbooks and other types of curriculum materials cover subjects only briefly, never giving the student the chance to really learn or develop an authentic appreciation for it. This is not the case when parents choose to homeschool with unit studies.
Most homeschool parents want their children to do more than simply memorize a bunch of facts only to forget them later. Homeschool parents want their children to fully experience the joy knowledge can bring. They also want them to retain as much of the information they absorb as possible.
Unit studies can help homeschool parents make subjects really live for their children. Often, unit studies use a variety of living books, making the subject more interesting and exposing the student to a mix of resources geared toward the chosen topic. Unit studies allow homschool parents and children to immerse themselves in a hands-on approach to a particular topic, studying it from all conceivable angles. They also provide for more interaction between the homeschool parent and the child by providing interesting topics for discussion. Often, activities lend themselves to collaboration.
Unit studies can be used for just one homeschool student or a whole group of them. Instead of using a different unit study for each homeschool child within a family, unit studies allow parents to study the same topic with children at different age levels. All the homeschool children in the family can participate in learning the same topic. They simply use materials and do activities geared to their appropriate levels. Furthermore, unit studies can even help homeschool parents teach children with different learning styles within the same family.