From the very first day we began homeschooling until our sons graduated from high school, unit studies took front and center stage. We had a separate math curriculum, and in our boys’ formative years, we utilized various Bible, handwriting, spelling, grammar, and language resources. But, when it came to history and science we were all about unit studies! For us, it was just easier to have both boys learning about the same history and science together and, given their 6-year age gap, unit studies enabled them to bond more closely because they learned together. In 9th grade, each of our sons moved from science-based unit studies to lab science textbooks, but for the duration of their high school years unit studies remained the backbone of our history, geography, literature, writing, and grammar, as well as art and music appreciation.
Throughout our seventeen years of homeschooling, I scheduled unit studies in a few ways. For a time we blocked off afternoons for our unit study assignments. Then for a while, we blocked off every other afternoon. Both options worked fine, but ultimately we settled on reserving one whole day each week for a creative, hands-on “unit study day.” We enjoyed the break it gave us from “school as usual” and the fun, creative learning opportunities it afforded us. It was by far everyone’s favorite school day!
A typical unit study day began with a family devotional that pertained to that week’s topic which was followed by tieing the unit study to subjects such as science, history, language, geography, vocabulary, arts & crafts, and life skills.
For homeschool families like ours who prefer the unit study approach, any of the above schedules will work. They also work well for those who prefer a Charlotte Mason or eclectic approach. Co-ops find unit studies a particularly useful resource as well. But, what if your homeschool approach is more traditional or classical? In that case, unit studies that complement what you’re already teaching can be a valuable resource from which you can pull creative, hands-on assignments and enhance your curriculum. For example, if your kids are studying American history you could supplement your curriculum with a unit study about the American Revolution or Lewis & Clark.
Holidays provide the perfect backdrop for a unit study particularly when it pertains to a holiday itself. Last but not least, summer in all its glory can make unit studies really shine, especially when hosting a backyard summer camp for your kids and their friends!
So, whether you choose for unit studies to form the backbone of your curriculum, or you want to “supersize” your existing curriculum, or you just want a little something extra special to look forward to now and again, unit studies can easily be worked into any curriculum. Either way, they’re sure to help you make serious learning FUN!