One thing I teach others about unit
studies is that "THERE ARE NO RULES." A unit study can be whatever
you want it to be. The length of time you spend, the topic, the type and number
of books used, and so on-it's up to you! Here are a few tips: A 4-week study is
generally enough time to cover the material you wish to teach without losing
your students. Don't force subjects to fit. You don't have to do each subject
everyday. Plan your year choosing some history, some science, some arts, and
"other" categories. If you are doing a history topic like the Civil
War, let it be history, and don't try to squeeze in science. If it is a topic
like weather, let it remain science, don't look for history. Subjects that
naturally fit with most topics are: geography, art, language arts (reading,
writing, spelling, and vocabulary), history, or science, etc.
I have tried to give you a picture, in a
nutshell, of why unit studies are so effective and popular. Along with that, I
have offered just a few guidelines and tips to help you understand this method
a little better. If you want to know more, you'll have to read my book,
"Everything You Need to Know About Homeschool Unit Studies."
Jennifer Steward and her husband, Jim, have been teaching their 8
children from their Northern California home
for the past 15 years. Of those years, Jennifer has used the unit study method
for at least ten. She admits that she bumbled her way through unit studies much
of the time, but has finally discovered some of the "problem areas",
and has refined and designed a prescription framework that makes this method do-able
for all! In addition to writing her book, "Everything", Jennifer has
hosted a monthly unit study meeting in her area for the past four years and
speaks for support groups and at homeschool conventions. She also created and
offers the popular Unit Study Workshop, where she has taught hundreds of
parents how they can use this method. The Stewards also manage their home
business, STEWARDSHIP, offering a wide range of unit study guides, books, and
helps. Visit her website at www.unitstudies.com.
Originally appeared in Summer 2001. Used with
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.