Overview: Want to help your kids rediscover their love for learning? Put aside the worksheets and the textbooks and consider these 13 benefits of unit studies!
Have you ever tried using a unit study with your children? If not, you may want to consider giving one a try. Unit studies are different than the traditional way of homeschooling because rather than studying each subject separately they combine multiple subjects into one set of lessons. Kids are then able to learn all of the various topics such as reading, history, and science by studying a single topic.
Unit studies encourage students to see a topic as a whole; they see the big picture, not just bits and pieces of it. This is a lot more like learning from real life experience. In fact, good unit studies will incorporate as many real-life experiences, such a field trips and science experiments, as possible.
When our kids learn from unit studies, they develop the ability to study various facets of a topic which vastly increases their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Unit studies are typically built around one topic. Some unit studies are based on a period in history, a specific event, or even fictional or historical characters. Other unit studies are built around various scientific discoveries, inventions, or anything else you or your child can imagine.
The best unit studies are those which cover something your child is passionate about.
This integrated approach includes logic, history, reading, literature, writing, photography, social studies, drama, science, math, geography, arts and crafts, learning to draw, art appreciation, music appreciation, physical education and more.
This is often referred to as a multidisciplinary or a thematic approach. It is an experiential, hands-on approach to learning. When children go into such depth and spend a generous amount of time on each theme, their retention of the subject is higher than when using traditional methods.
For example, when my boys were interested in knights and Medieval England, I developed a unit study for them
called Time Capsule: Medieval England, which helped them to feel as though they were actually living in Medieval England.
They got to wear the clothes, eat the food, forge the weapons, learn about the history, experiment with the scientific inventions of the middle ages, hear the music and more.
Here are 13 benefits of unit studies:
- Children of all ages and different levels can learn together making this type of learning great for families with varied age ranges.
- They are lower in cost than traditional curricula – especially if you create your own!
- The students get an in-depth understanding of each topic – this helps them to develop mastery of the subject and have longer retention of the material.
- Since there are no time restraints, the child is given ample time to think, experiment and discover each topic.
- Because there are varied activities through which the material is studied, students are able to learn through different learning styles.
- Since unit studies are multi-aged, the younger child learns immeasurably from and through the older child.
- The creative hands-on projects and activities are great fun.
- Students learn more detailed information with an in-depth study of a topic.
- One benefit is that they can hold some children’s interest longer than dealing with subjects individually. For example, a child who doesn’t enjoy math might be coaxed to stick with it longer if the concepts are presented within the context of a subject he does enjoy.
- Unit studies encourage the use of imagination, creativity, and thinking skills.
- Because the topic is presented as a whole, with many memorable experiences, the children are less likely to forget what they have learned and experienced!
- Because the lessons are all interrelated, there are less individual resources to deal with, making lesson planning and teaching simpler.
- It’s a fun way to learn and bring the whole family together!
If you’re new to using unit studies, you may want to purchase one where the books and the lesson plans have already been put together for you.
If you’d like to try your hand at creating your own unit study, simply do the following:
1 – Talk with your kids and find a topic that you’d all like to explore in depth.
2 – Search for good books, both fiction and non-fiction, which can be read during your studies. Be sure to choose books your kids can read as well as some selections you can read aloud to them.
3 – Search for movies which tie into your subject.
4 – List the various school subjects you would like to cover with your unit study.
5 – Search for a variety of activities which your kids can complete that will help them to use as many of their senses as possible, as many learning styles as possible, and will give them as complete a picture as possible of your topic.
6 – Look for field trips which would help to drive home the lessons you are trying to teach.
Some homeschoolers use unit studies as a break from their regular studies to try to put some of the fun back into learning. Others use them over summer vacation. And still others use them exclusively.
If you’ve never tried using a unit study before, you may want to give one a try. Unit studies are a great way to help your kids to enjoy learning again!
Question: Does your family use unit studies? If so, do you use them exclusively or as a way to take a break from regular studies? Please leave a comment below?
And be sure to check out the other great posts about Homeschool Choices: Reasons You Should and Should Not Choose These Methods from other iHN bloggers at iHomeschool Network.