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Have you ever thought of trying out homeschool unit studies? Maybe you’ve heard of them before, but figured it was just another activity. Maybe you didn’t quite get how they worked, and were afraid to ask. Or maybe you’ve never even heard of homeschool unit studies in the first place.
Friend, let me set your mind at ease. Not only are they easy to work with, but they’ll actually save you time in the long run, because the time you spend coaxing, bribing, and/or pleading with your kids to do school is going to nosedive. In fact, you just might have kids start pleading with you to start school tomorrow!
If I’ve peaked your interested already and you want to jump straight into HOW to start doing unit studies, you can head to the Homeschool Resource Room’s latest ebook- “Homeschool Unit Studies.”
If you need a little more convincing, I’ve compiled my top five reasons for using unit studies in your homeschool. Let me walk you through them.
#1 Homeschool Unit Studies Fit Around Your Current Curriculum
This should sound like good news to those of you who’ve already committed to one form of learning for this school year. Deciding to try unit studies doesn’t mean calling up the superintendent and pulling your kids from distance learning or buying a whole new pack of curriculum. (Of course, if you try them, love them, and they’re a good fit for your family, you probably could take a very ‘unschooling’ approach and do unit studies full time. However this would take a lot of time and effort, and isn’t generally the way I see most homeschoolers using unit studies.)
Homeschool unit studies are ideal for those awkward times in the year when there’s too much time to give days off, but too little time to start new sections of your current curriculum. Back when I was a teacher, we used to call these the “lame duck” school days. They were times often filled with movies, extra recess, and maybe some kind of semi-educational game or craft.
Rather than waste time with the ‘semi-educational,’ why not use a unit study? They’re designed to fit the time you have, can actually be quite cerebral and educational, and will keep your kids engaged no matter how excited they are for the upcoming holiday/vacation/etc?
#2 Hands-on Break from Online Learning
If your child does a lot of their lessons using online platforms, you might want to give them learning opportunities away from the computer or tablet. Break out a unit study! Though you could always use online resources to help them gather information, homeschool unit studies can be done 100% offline.
Make use of your library, go for a nature walk, or find a local expert. Heck, even a trip to the grocery store or park could be part of a unit study if you play your cards right. The community at large is your classroom!
#3 Personalized learning = skyrocketing engagement
Now we get to the BEST part of homeschool unit studies: child-led learning!
Sometimes, kids might be getting a quality education from the current curriculums you’ve chosen, but they seem to constantly complain about how BORED they are! So many parents worry that they’ll snuff out their child’s love of learning by forcing them to learn times tables or practice vocabulary words.
Maybe you’re looking for a way to balance the good (if less-interesting) learning found in your curriculum with something that really sparks your child’s passion. That’s where unit studies come in! Unit studies allow your child to run with their questions, interests, and favorite topics and spend time diving deeper in a way that really adds to their education.
Unit studies re-energize your child and give them time to work on passion projects. This makes them especially good tools to pull out when engagement is lagging, for instance in the middle of a long stretch between vacations, or if you homeschool during the summer. You also might choose to use one around the time one child is tackling a rather difficult subject or lesson, and you want to give their brain some kind of break without falling into an Netflix-binging slump.
Be careful though! Your kids might like unit studies so much they want to learn all the time!
#4 Enriches your Current Curriculum
At some point in every homeschool family’s journey, they’ll come across a curriculum that just doesn’t fit perfectly. I know a lot of families are feeling that this year especially. You definitely should always seek to find a curriculum that fits your family and children as well as possible (have I mentioned we have a complete secular curriculum guide if you need help finding good fits?). However, sometimes it’s not feasible or logical to switch curriculums midstream.
Enter the unit study. Because it can wrap around your existing curriculum, it doesn’t take time away from your regularly scheduled subjects if you don’t want it to. It CAN, however, enrich the learning your children are already doing. If you wished your current curriculum focused more on STEM activities, or spent longer reading classic literature, you can use a unit study to make up for that lack! Alternatively, you can look to your children and their interests to guide you in creating a unit study, which leads me to…
#5 Homeschool Unit Studies Create Family Togetherness
This benefit is what really shocks most people when they learn about unit studies for the first time.
“What? Everyone’s learning together at the same time, about the same subject? HOW??”
I know, it sounds impossible to imagine: kindergarteners are learning about the same thing as their much bigger brothers or sisters without getting lost. High school kids are learning about a topic alongside their middle- and elementary-aged siblings without getting bored. I’ve seen it work, though! When I taught in my old alternative education program, I’d routinely have kids with five and six year age gaps, all learning about the same things at the same time- and thriving.
The key is to tweak the amount, type, or sub-topic of a lesson so the learning is relevant for every one of your kids. That way, your whole family might be learning about the Trojan War, but maybe not everyone is learning Greek, building trebuchets, or drawing ancient sailboats. If they are learning the exact same topic, you certainly wouldn’t expect the same amount of work or kind of final project from your first and sixth graders. It’s all about the customization; that way, everyone stays engaged- not too bored or too frustrated.
Okay, so now I’ve shown you a bunch reasons why unit studies are great, but you probably still have lots of questions.
- What does a unit study even look like?
- I still don’t understand how a whole family can learn the same stuff at the same time!
- Can I learn multiple subjects at once through a unit study?
- What would I even include in a unit study?
I cover all these questions (and many more!) in the Homeschool Resource Room’s latest ebook, Homeschool Unit Studies. It’s hot off the digital press and ready to download right onto your device today.
Head on over to our Shop page here at the resource room to grab your copy, along with pre-packaged unit studies, bundles, planners, and whatever else your homeschool needs!
Hillary is a former teacher who went rogue and became a freelance writer. When not offering support and advice to homeschooling families, she tends to her own garden, family, and cat. You can connect with her on her website, homegrownhillary.com.