Homeschool Unit Studies
The Fun Way To Homeschool

A mom reading to her two sonsHomeschool unit studies can be one of the most enjoyable homeschooling methods among the various options available.  First of all, in homeschooling unit studies the whole family from the oldest to the youngest can get involved in the learning and decision making process.  Added to this, it's entirely interest based learning, while making sure that all the typical schoolwork topics of language arts, math, science, history, geography, art and social studies are covered under the blanket of one or two themes or "topics".  It's a great method of homeschooling and can go a long way to inspire children to learn, especially if the typical textbook has dragged them down learning the regular curricula.

Ultimate flexibility

Homeschool unit studies also have the convenience of being able to combine nicely with supplemental textbooks for whenever subjects may be difficult to incorporate with particular topics chosen for a unit study period.  

Choosing a topic

Whether you're children have just reached school age, you're giving your kids a break from public school, or you're trying a different homeschooling approach, when picking a topic for your homeschooling unit studies, there are two flexible options to choose from.

  1. If your children are already learning from textbooks and they like a particular subject, you can take that subject and build your homeschool unit studies around it.
  2. If your children, or even your entire family, have a particular hobby or interest, you can build a unit study around it. Another variation of this option is to create a co-participation homeschool unit studies schedule between your family and another to share topic ideas.

Learning materials and duration

A book with a magnifying glassOnce you've decided on what kind of topic to revolve your program around homeschool unit studies, you then have to start doing the research for the learning materials, mediums and activities you could source to meet the grade level of your child or children.  You can buy books and materials from educational shops or bookstores. You can also conduct research at your local or college libraries and if you have older children, they can help in this research. Another alternative to getting learning materials is to look for pre-themed, homeschool unit studies curricula.  You then have to decide how long you plan to focus on the particular topic you've chosen, whether it's going to be for 1 or 2 weeks or 2 or 3 months, which is very flexible depending upon your home school schedule. In the event that your children would like to cover the same topic again, it can easily be done through additional research for more study materials at the appropriate level for your child's comprehension and grade level.

How to conduct the learning process

Some ways that you can help your children learn effectively in a homeschooling unit studies program is have them read (or read to them) "lively" books on the topic, watch or listen to relevant films or videos, write about what they've learned, visit locations that are associated with your topic, work on subject related craft projects, and read biographies of people who've had some kind of affiliation with the topic as well. Two examples of how a unit study can be arranged to cover a range of school subjects follow below.

  1. If your child has an interest in horses:
    • Math: Use math skills to compute the different measurements of different sizes and breeds of horses and use these measurements to compare different breeds and estimate different measurements.  Practice measuring horses using both the standard and metric systems.
    • Language Arts: Write stories or summaries from the information read or write a poem about how a horse looks or moves.
    • Science: Study how to care for a horse, what horses eat, how the body and systems of a horse work and how they might be different from humans.
    • Social Studies/History: Research the history of how horses have been used by humans throughout history and learn how different countries use horses for different purposes.
    • Physical Education: Visit a horse stable/ranch or even go horseback riding
    • Art: Draw or paint horses or create a collage of horses.
    • Technology: Create a presentation about what you’ve learned about horses using a presentation software (PowerPoint or Keynote), a slideshow software (iPhoto or Photostory), or a movie producing software (Windows Movie Maker or iMovie).  Children can also write a report or create an informational brochure about horses using Microsoft Word or Publisher or Pages.
  2. If your child has an interest in astronomy or space:
    • Math: Study how to calculate light years, the distance of stars, the size and distance of planets.  Using this information, students can then order the planets in size, weight, and distance.
    • Language Arts: Read stories about the different things that the constellations are based upon and create your own constellation along with a story to describe how it came to be.  Write about why they like astronomy, what they would like to do in outer space, or about their favorite events in one of the books read for the unit.
    • Science: Visit a science museum, observatory, or planetarium; study the constellations, learn how to use a telescope – you may even try having children make their own!  Learn about how the shuttles are able to fly and why there is no gravity in space.
    • Social Studies or Geography: Find out who invented different kinds of telescopes, why they invented them, and where they were built.
    • Art: Draw a space shuttle and paint a super nova or other space anomaly.
    • Music: Listen to the music score for Space Odyssey, Star Wars, or Star Trek. Using a music producing software such as Garageband or Audacity, create your own music score with an outer space “feel”.
    • History: Read about the history of NASA and research the lives of important astronauts, significant missions, and create a timeline of significant events relating to space travel.
      Physical Education: Try to assimilate astronaut training if possible by getting tickets for the kids to spend some time in an anti-gravity chamber, if there is one at a science museum or amusement park.

Meeting educational goals

It isn't recommended for a child to be educated using homeschool unit studies only, especially if the child is to later enter college, as they can fall short of academic requirements despite a healthy cultivation for motivated learning.  So to compensate, it is recommended for parents to carefully assess their child's learning progress and supplement subject areas with the appropriate textbooks to ensure an adequate level of education is reached for their children.

 

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