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What’s not to love about homeschool unit studies? You can choose topics that interest you and cover multiple subjects at once. They work great for families with a range of ages and learning styles. And unit studies lend themselves to a more experiential education with hands-on project-based activities.
We've been homeschooling with unit studies for most of our 17 years of homeschooling. Early on, though, I grew disappointed with the format of some of the units I purchased.
I needed to gather and/or purchase lots of additional resources. I ended up with tons of paper and projects cluttering my home when the study was done. Often the suggested projects seemed like “busy work” and were not relevant to the way my kids learned. I also found that many unit study guides and ebooks were out-dated, recommending obsolete print materials or broken and “old school” weblinks. And navigating a unit study from a webpage can be confusing.
Choosing a homeschool unit study reminded me of my daughter's go-to childhood bedtime story. She was obsessed with “Goldilocks and the 3 Bears”. She'd ask me to read over and over (and over and over and over) again. I remember her cute little voice quoting Goldilocks …”Too soft. Too hard. Just right.” “Too hot, Too cold. Just right”…over and over (and over and over and over) again.
Picking a homeschool unit study can feel like a Goldilocks experience. “Too long. Too short. Too dry. Too fluffy. Too rigid. Too flexible. Too much planning. Too many supplies.” It’s hard to find the “Just right” unit study for your family.
The Advantages of Unit Studies
I fully understood (and loved) the benefits of homeschooling with of unit studies…
- Interest-led topics keep my kids engaged and excited about learning.
- Integrated subjects require less overall planning for me
- Hands-on, project-based activities encourage creativity and problem solving
- Academic needs for multiple ages and learning styles are addressed
- Flexibility means a more relaxed home learning experience.
But, searching online to find a unit study can be overwhelming. There are so many choices. With tons of unit studies available, how do you choose the “just right” unit study for your family? What's the best one?
7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Homeschool Unit Study
1) Does it teach a topic my children are interested in?
Children will be more engaged, develop more skills and retain more knowledge if they have a genuine interest in the topic being studied. I will ask my kids what they want to study and find something that would truly interest them
2) Does it cover many subjects?
A unit study should be multi-disciplinary, meaning they integrate multiple academic subjects. A good one will hit science, history, art, tech ed, math, geography, language arts and more all in one.
3) Can it be adjusted for multiple skill levels & ages?
If you have multiple children, you need a unit study that can be adjusted for their varied skills and academic abilities. Look for ones that offer the flexibility to leave things out for your younger kids and/or makes suggestions of activities to challenge your older children.
4) Is the format “user-friendly”?
You should be able to present the information and activities to your children easily. Any format that stresses out mom is going to be frustrating for your kids. Also, it shouldn't require tons of prep for you.
5) Does it cater to the learning styles of your learners?
It's important to consider the learning styles of your children when choosing a homeschool curriculum. Different children learn in different ways. Consider how the information is presented and whether it meets the needs of visual, auditory, and tactile learners.
6) Does it progress through levels of learning?
In college, I learned about this thing called Bloom's Taxonomy. It's a hierarchy of educational objectives, each progressing in complexity. True learning doesn't happen when a child just acquires information. They need to evaluate it, generate responses, and create. A good unit study needs to provide activities that hit all levels of learning
7) Is there a community of other users?
Connecting with other homeschool families is important. You can share ideas and successes, along with offering encouragement and accountability. Is the homeschool unit study you're considering conducive to this sense of community? Can you do it with other families? Or at least find a community of other users online?
Why I Created My Own Unit Studies
Truth be told, way back in the dark ages of our homeschooling, I couldn't find a unit study curriculum that fit all my needs, so I started creating my own. It was a lot of work, but as more and more resources became available online, we relied more on websites and videos.
I’ve created more techie unit studies than currently published ones. I figured that since my kids wanted screen time, wouldn’t it be better to do a unit study primarily on the computer, something that’s in an online course format? And wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t need to deal with outdated, broken, and potentially unsafe weblinks?
How much better would it be if my kids could easily access video tutorials for projects without getting distracted by cat videos on Youtube? Or better yet…what if they did more digital projects and presentations, learning skills they will need later in life?
These DIY homeschool unit studies was the start of Online Unit Studies, the online homeschool courses I publish, and eventually this blog.
Are Online Unit Studies Right for You?
I now offer over 20 Online Unit Studies here at Techie Homeschool Mom. As you're looking for unit studies, I strongly encourage you to consider them.
Online Unit Studies are cloud-based eCourses for homeschoolers. You simply enroll in courses, and whenever you log in, you will see each course you’ve ever purchased…they never expire, they never go away. Just click on your current course.
Next, just click on your current lesson. Scroll through the lesson, click to watch the videos and click on the links to access websites. Go through the lesson at your own pace, then click the complete and continue to move on.
You’ll find lots of hands-on or digital projects in Online Unit Studies for a highly interactive learning process. There are even discussion boards and BookClubs where you can connect with other homeschoolers.
Online Unit Studies integrate multiple subjects for multiple ages of students. Students access websites and videos and complete digital projects. With Online Unit Studies’ easy-to-use E-course format, no additional books and print resources are needed. Just gather supplies for hands-on projects and register for online tools.
Most have preview lessons which give you a good look inside the course before buying. Who knows … Online Unit Studies may be “just right”.
Tell me … what has been your experience choosing a unit study for your family? What unit studies have you found that are “just right” for your family?
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