Just as children have various learning styles, curriculum options take various approaches to education styles. As you pursue your choice of homeschool curriculum and methods, consider unit studies as an alternative way of approaching a topic. The method is usually quite hands-on and also encourages responsibility and personal discipline through in depth study, while often allowing some freedom for creativity within the curriculum.
Subjects Encompassed in Unit Studies
While math and language are obviously subjects that must be taught in sequential order, most other subjects may be taught by unit and based upon personal interest. Units may take a broad, vague approach which offers an overall view of a subject, or they may take an in depth, microscopic look at a topic down to the very minor details. Simply by narrowing a topic down to a particular subject base, the applications can run very widely and very deeply. The beauty of unit studies is that they encompass a variety of subjects at once.
For instance, choosing to study a unit on Ancient Egyptians can touch on science, social studies, language arts, music & art, history, and religion. By researching the scientific nature of the culture, you can see the Egyptians had incredible medical advances as well as practical scientific uses, such as clothing dyes and beauty regimens. History and social studies would follow the culture’s development from political standpoint as well as on a familial level, covering practical uses of tools and other economic factors. Language and art could both be covered by taking a look at hieroglyphics. And so it goes on with various units for a variety of subjects. Sometimes even math can be incorporated by including the calculations related to the topic within the curriculum.
This type of curriculum may be ideal for homeschooling families because children of various ages will be able to participate at different levels. Various discussions may be encouraged between children of different ages, and the older children may be given deeper challenges and reading material in order to fulfill their needs for more advanced learning. This type of group learning can motivate younger children to advance further in order to earn the privileges that the older children have. And as the older children help to teach the younger children, their learning capacity and memory is reinforced in a genuine way.
One of the aspects of Unit Studies which families enjoy is the ability to feel a mastery over one topic. There is often a strong memory created by the association of so many subjects to one topic, and many times a real affection is created for that unit which may last a lifetime. Focusing deeply and broadly on one unit for a long time allows a child (and adult!) to feel a great amount of confidence in that topic, creating an ability to speak on it with authority. Rather than touching lightly on a great many topics, Unit Studies allow the child to dive into the one topic, teaching them how to do so for their entire lives.
Unit Studies are just one of many curriculum options for homeschool families. They allow for a great amount of creativity, and may be combined with many different learning styles tailored toward each child individually. Some Unit Study curriculums which are purchased may be quite in depth and laid out, lasting an entire school year. Or you may find some short term units which are less deep, and may allow for more freedom and creativity. Many are even made available without cost on the internet. It is likely that, with as many options as are available, you can find one that is a great fit for your homeschooling family.