Unit studies take a theme or topic and incorporate all or many different subjects into that topic (language arts, history, geography, science, arts, etc.). They are a popular way of organizing homeschool studies and are compatible with many homeschool methods. Unit studies can be created by the teaching parent, but there are also many prepared unit studies available for free or purchase. Purchased unit studies are sold as separate studies, or as part of a complete curriculum program. A typical homeschool day using a unit study about Ancient Egypt might include: reading books about Egypt (history); making a salt dough map of Egypt (geography); exploring why the area around the Nile was so fertile (science); calculating the height of a pyramid (math); watching “Prince of Egypt” (cultural studies); learning how to spell “pyramid”, “ancient” and other related words (spelling); creating a page with a picture of a sarcophagus and a short written description (art, handwriting and composition); and, listening to a bedtime story set in Egypt (literature).

STRENGTHS

  • unit studies are easy to tailor to the learning style and interests of the student
  • multi-level unit studies allow all the children in a family to study the same topic together
  • unit studies can be very fun by incorporating things like cultural cooking, field trips, skits, or other hands-on projects
  • when subjects are presented in a holistic manner, students develop a more “connected” sense of knowledge
  • this method works well with many homeschool styles
  • easy to adapt studies to focus on a student’s weaker subjects

POINTS TO CONSIDER

  • using this approach runs the risk of not covering certain subjects or competencies adequately
  • not all prepared unit studies are created equal and a parent-teacher needs enough homeschooling experience to recognize what will work well for their students
  • attempting to incorporate every subject into the unit study might not work so well for certain subjects that build on a growing bed of systematic, prerequisite knowledge (e.g. math)

RESOURCES

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