Unit studies are one of the many approaches to teaching subjects in homeschooling, but many people are not familiar with exactly what a homeschooling unit study is and how it works. Our goal for this article is to discuss what unit studies are, how they work, and what subjects they seem to be the most appropriate for teaching.
A unit study is a stand-alone study of a topic or theme that approaches it from a variety of angles and viewpoints. Unit studies are very activity oriented, and engage the student in throughout the learning process. They do not depend on textbooks or rote memorization like other approaches might. They allow your child to explore a topic in depth, drawing on skills they have developed in other subject areas and topics. Unit studies are an excellent way to help your child see how different subjects are interconnected and the importance of having a broad education.
Let’s consider an example of a unit study. Suppose your child is fascinated with ancient Egypt. You can prepare a unit study that touches on various subjects they are leaning, beginning, of course, with the history of ancient Egypt. You can tie in geography with how the borders of Egypt have changed since ancient times, and tie in Bible with studying where Egypt is mentioned in the Bible and what role it plays in Biblical history. Science can be tied in with the unit study by considering different theories on how the pyramids were made, and what inventions ancient Egyptians made. Of course art can easily be brought into the study, also. These are just some examples of how a unifying topic or theme can be used to encourage your child to combine different areas of knowledge into a thorough study of the topic.
To wrap up a unit study, your child could prepare presentations, videos, reports, dioramas, etc. sharing what they learned with the family and friends. This not only reinforces what they have learned, but encourages them to process it well enough to explain it to others.
As a homeschooling parent, you can develop your own unit studies or used pre-packaged unit studies that are available for many different subjects. Unit studies also vary in length and intensity, and can be adapted for different age groups. If you teach more than one child, a unit study can be adapted for all your children to work on together.
Unit studies don’t work as well with subjects like mathematics or English (but it’s still possible) as the unifying topic, but are very popular and effective for teaching topics such as Bible, history, the arts, and science. On the other hand, mathematics and English or language skills can be made a key component of the unit study (just not the unifying topic).
In conclusion, unit studies are an excellent way to study a topic in depth while drawing and building on knowledge from a variety of subjects. They engage the student deeply in the subject, and provide an opportunity to recognize the importance of a broad education.
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