Put simply, a unit study is any topic that you focus on for an extended period of time in your homeschool. During the “unit”, you make an effort to incorporate every subject you can, so that you can build your entire lesson plan around that single thematic topic.
Unit studies are almost exclusively used in public schools for preschoolers. If you’ve ever visited a preschool or a daycare, you’ve probably noticed that they have “Color Week”, “Shape Week” or “Fall Week” each year. During those weeks, all of the children’s activities are centered around those themes. Unit studies work in the exact same way.
Benefits of Using Unit Studies in Homeschool
If they are used in public school, why should you consider using them for your homeschooled students? There are probably several advantages, but these three are at the top of the list.
They are flexible. One of the major benefits of homeschooling is flexibility. You have the ability to decide what you will learn, the manner in which you will learn it, and how quickly you’ll get it done. Unit studies are a perfect fit for this style of teaching. You can choose which resources you’ll include (and which you won’t), how much of the topic to cover and which subjects you want to include.
They’re adaptable for all ages. A lot of homeschooling families have more than one child, which can make lesson planning a challenge. If you have, say, one child in fourth grade, another in second, and a four-year-old doing preschool lessons, you may have to do a lot of running around to teach everyone. Using unit studies, though, you can cover several of the same subjects together using your primary theme. For example, if you’re studying the Middle Ages in Europe, you can choose a graded reader for each child’s level and spend time reading them together.
They are easy to plan. If you buy a packaged unit study, you won’t have to do any planning at all, except deciding which day to get started. If you write your own unit study, you’ll find that the planning stage can be much shorter than the amount of time you’d spend scheduling a traditional curriculum. Since you’ll be covering the same topic with all of your students, you won’t have so many topics to keep track of during the week.