If you have a very creative teaching style you may want to make your own unit studies. It is not hard to do and is a great way to tailor your child's education to her needs and interests.
Benefits of Making Unit Studies
There are literally thousands of different unit studies available for homeschoolers in a myriad of different subjects and styles. When you make your own unit studies, however, you have the opportunity to provide your child with a personalized course of study that takes a variety of things into consideration. Some of these things are:
- Teaching style
- Learning style
- Number of grades being taught
- Scheduling considerations
- Available course materials
Preparing to Make Your Own Unit Studies
Making your own unit study takes time and planning. You may want to set aside a week when your children are on vacation and use that time to plan for the semester or even the year. Unless you have an extensive library at your home, and many homeschoolers do, it is also a good idea to use the local public library when planning. Some libraries have their card catalog on the Internet and this can make it very simple to schedule which books to use. Don't forget about interlibrary loans too!Talk to your children and find out what they might like to learn about. Possible subjects that make good unit studies are:
- Native Americans
- Ocean life
- Colonial times
- Specific states or countries
Of course, there are a multitude of other subjects that would also make good unit studies.
Creating the Unit Study
Once you have your subject chosen, you will want to break it down into different classes. Some projects that you do will encompass more than one subject area; that is the wonderful thing about unit studies.
Any time your child is involved in reading or writing she is using English skills. It can be difficult to change your mindset from the fill in the blank papers that you may have done as a student to the way your child will be learning. Many parents have discovered that the all inclusive unit study approach allows their child to retain more and communicate at a higher level.
Choose several vocabulary words for your student to learn during the course of the unit study. These should be from the books, movies, and other media that you will be using in teaching this unit. Choose words that are not too easy, but that are also not too far above the child's level. For example, if you are writing a study on birds your vocabulary list might include:
- Lower Elementary
- Upper Elementary
- Junior High
- High School
If you are using the unit study with several different ages at once, this allows each student to excel at her level.By adding in copywork, narration, a bird feeder journal, and individual reading assignments you can be sure that your child will be getting what she needs in English.
Social StudiesWhen writing your own curriculum you may think it difficult to fit social studies and history into certain subjects. This is almost never true. For example, in the bird unit being used as an example, social studies and history can be added by using the following:
- Bird habitats
- Biography of Audubon
- Bird populations in different countries
- Migratory paths
For science, studying the types of birds, what they eat and how they live is all part of learning. You may also add:
- Incubating and hatching a chicken egg
- Nature notebooks
Math is one of the most difficult subjects to bring into a unit study although many people do this successfully. In the earlier grades it can be as easy as making worksheet with birds on it and asking the child to add three robins and two sparrows. It will be different in every situation. Many people who use unit studies depend on a more traditional math program like Saxon Math to ensure that all the math needs are covered.Art and music are simple to include with a little imagination. Study artists that specialized in painting what you are studying about, in this case birds, or a composer that fits into the study somewhere.
When making your own unit studies you should use as many different techniques as possible to envelope all the learning styles. This will help your student retain important information. Some ways to incorporate different learning styles into your unit study are:
- Artwork and crafts
- Read alouds
- Drawing diagrams and maps
- Watching movies
- Singing songs
- Drama or mime
- Observation during field trips and other activities
- Individual reading
- Listening to a specialist in the subject
- Being asked to solve a problem
If you make your own unit studies, you will gain insight into how your children learn. You will be able to examine a subject in as much depth as they would like, taking as long as their interest lasts. Saving money is a great side benefit of writing your own unit study but the lasting love of learning that will be instilled in your children is the greatest benefit of all.