Sunday, April 10, 2011

Unit Studies and Home schooling (Home education;-)

I've just been talking to a few people (as you do) and reading a few more books (as you do). Today's book "The Complete Idiots Guide to Homeschooling"
So far I'm really enjoying it. I'm not reading it cover to cover just reading the bits I feel I need to know more about.
Before starting down this Homeschool (Home learning;-) track we went to a local support group to listen to all the different ways of teaching and encouraging our children in their learning process. One lady was to talk about Unit Studies...she didn't but gave a GREAT talk any way....but I was always left wondering. Not so much that I dashed home to look it up....but just questioning in the back of my mind.
Unit Studies: Concentrating on a Theme!
This really sounds like me (but is it my children?)
Finding a topic that we want to know more about and looking into it in as many ways as possible.

"Rather than teaching the many subject areas abstractly and in an unrelated way, a unit study covers all the curriculum areas, connecting and interconnecting in a way that makes children understand why they need to learn this. Since everything relates to the common theme and connects naturally, studying the various subjects makes more sense. Choose a unit study that your children are interested in, and you can be sure of better retention of the material.

Here's an example of a very simple unit study on dogs:

> Find three books on dogs: a nonfiction book on the breeds of dogs; a nonfiction book on dog care and training; and a collection of dog stories.

> Collect pictures of dogs and articles about dogs found in magazines.

> Learn to spell the names of several breeds of dogs. Keep lists of your spelling words on notebook paper.

> Make word cards of new vocabulary and meanings encountered while reading.

> Make a graph or chart about dogs.

> Write a short essay about how dogs have been important to humans throughout history.

> Write a short essay about types of dogs typically related to geographic regions of the world.

> Combine your graph, vocabulary words, spelling lists, essays, pictures, and collected articles into a notebook. Include a list with the names of the books you read. Be sure to include your name and the date you compiled your information.

Some purchased unit studies are planned to take about six weeks. Many home-based learners have discovered that once interest is sparked, their studies expand and grow, taking on a life of their own, and research has shown retention to be 40 percent better than that achieved through traditional methods.

The unit study approach is excellent for families with children of varying ages, because all ages can study the same topic, with adjustments made for the ability level of the children. Shared family interests, such as bird watching, sailing, or softball, can be made into a unit study for a fun way to do a trial run.

Using a unit study helps children get the big picture and promotes independent thinking. Children often come up with excellent ideas for expanding on a purchased or family-planned unit study.

Planning your own unit study is not complicated. Making a list of the various subject areas and plugging in the activities, books, programs, and field trips that you could use may be all you need to do before getting off to a running start!

Don't be fearful of learning gaps. Everyone has learning gaps caused by lack of interest in presented material, absence from school, or-for no apparent reason. No one knows everything. However, teaching your child good research skills, how to think, and how to learn is much more important than trying to cover every tidbit of information that someone else has laid out as important....."

This sounds really good and sort of what we are almost doing already with our children's love for bugs. My daughter is catching white butterfly from the garden...then she's not happy with that so she'll get the Caterpillar and try and feed them.
There are moths studied. There are bugs from the floor. There are stick insects on windows. Wasps in the courtyard. Praying Mantis eating wasps and running all over the house. Weta at playcentre and in our own garden shed. Bugs bugs bugs.
Paintings done. Books read. Baking done....all on this same theme and I've not really noticed until now. we're doing unit studies ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Our backbone was Five in a row - a very gentle unit study approach based around a story book.
    Lots of rabbit trails we went on. Only needed to add spelling & maths. All up took 1 hour a day. YEP that is all - the rest of the day was play learning, unschooling. But a great spring board.
    some of our best homeschooling has been with unit studies - Prairie primer was another.
    Love Leanne