Why Unit Studies?

I’m not sure that we’ll keep doing unit studies as our primary curriculum but for now here’s why we’re focusing on them:

We started homeschooling mid-way through the year. My son had attended Kindergarten at a local school and had all but finished the curriculum for the virtual public school we enrolled in for 1st grade by the end of February. While loving most of the program, the restrictions of the virtual school just didn’t make a good fit for our pace. When my sister decided to pull my niece from her public school around that same time it was a perfect opportunity to make the switch.

The relationship between our kids is great. My son told me yesterday they’re not just cousins, they’re best friends. They were born 34 days apart and have grown up living within 10 minutes their entire lives.

Both kids have their strengths and their challenges, some I am still learning how best to adapt to. That’s one reason Unit Studies are working so well for now. The lessons are adaptable to their different levels & interests. My niece, who reads at a middle school level, will spend hours reading books on whatever topic we are studying, while my son will generally pick one or two main informational texts and make diagrams, drawings and models to go along with what he’s learned.

Unit studies are also great because they can adapt to our schedule. I work from home 2-3 days/evenings a week & visit client offices 1-2 days a week. Away-from-home work days tend to be reading days. That gives us plenty of time the rest of the week to talk about what we have read and experiment with it.

Both kids are at or above expectations in reading level, comprehension and math, which gives us the freedom to study other areas and incorporate the core skills as needed instead of playing catch up or spending more school hours on those. If we were struggling in math or language skills I’d feel more comfortable with a “book curriculum” to improve those skills.

Switching up subjects every week or two and letting the kids have input into what we study has also helped them to resist getting bored. Even if a unit isn’t their favorite, or turns out to be less interesting than we thought, there’s always next week.

Will we keep using unit studies in 2nd grade and beyond? Probably somewhat. We’ll probably also this ELA text book I picked up (Level D – $0.75 at a used bookstore!) that incorporates social studies and science with language arts. There’s also a lot of online enrichment activities which my kids will love.

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