Unit Study Q & A

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Well, I�m half-way through my little boy, preschool year with a regular curriculum. He has learned so much and has done well. I, however, have not done so well. I had a hard time sticking with it every day toward the end of the first semester, and often found myself taking the �day off� whenever I felt the need. Now I realize that I have to teach five days a week through the end of May to complete the curriculum!!! After two weeks off for �Christmas Break,� his first week back was torture for both of us. I tried my best to be upbeat, positive, and fun. He tried his best to be grouchy, whiney, and impossible. By Wednesday, I was convinced that homeschooling wasn�t for me. After preschool...it�s SCHOOL FOR HIM! By Friday, however, I felt incredibly selfish and decided that I�d better keep on at least through Kindergarten. Maybe this curriculum is too sit-down, boring, and workbook-based for him...even though I don�t think it�s too difficult for him!

To finally get to my point, can you recommend some more fun, hands on curricula for kindergarteners that teaches as much as regular curriculum? I looked at some other teaching methods, but I don�t think I want to tackle a unit study. Any advice?


I�ve been told that Unit Studies are really good for educating multiple levels of children. What do you know about Unit Studies? Any experiences? Horror stories? I have also been reading The Whole Hearted Child written by Clay and Sally Clarkson. They are big believers in educating around �whole books.�



Dear Friend,


Welcome to the world of Unit Studies. When I first began, I used Konos, because it was pretty much the only one on the market. We loved having the unified study theme (most every subject studied was around the same topic), however that specific system didn�t work for me since I am more of a subject oriented person, rather than a character-trait thinker. I value the qualities, but don�t teach around them.


The reason I began using units, is because I had 3 small children, and I didn�t like them going to their own desk and working on their own school, and never working together as a family. Unit studies became a method for family unit for us. Also, when I wrote a small unit study on botany, and worked with my children and a friend�s family, the children learned it better and remembered it even years later, while forgetting what they�d studied in their textbooks just days before. Something about walking around the block, gathering different leaves, learning the names of the edgings on each leaf type, and making a book about them � it really embedded it in their memory. They�ll probably remember all of that forever! Now, that�s learning, and that turned me on � especially to unit studies.


What helped me most was buying pre-written unit studies, and using books from the library. This taught me what unit studies are all about, and how to incorporate more hands-on, reading �real books,� and working with several ages together. It also made our field trips more meaningful, since we could plan them around our subject of study, rather than just show up for the homeschool group�s planned event.


There are many unit study writers. To find one that works for you, ask around at your homeschool group for everyone to bring the unit studies they use or have so you can see them. There are some that are merely outlines and ideas, where you fill in with everything else. There are some based on the Bible or character qualities. There are some with worksheets, pre-planned science activities with labsheets, graphs, tables and charts, and more. Find something that works, and try it for a month. Then return to your normal routine, if that makes you feel better. Then try another unit study again a few months later.


Our typical daily schedule includes us finishing our routine subjects first: Bible, prayer, art appreciation, memorization, math facts practice, math lesson, grammar practice and handwriting. Then we move into the unit study. Our beginning time is set, but we have an open-ended stopping time. We break for lunch, but might pick it back up in the afternoon, if needed.


Hope this helps. You can visit our website, to see the units we have available. We are also currently working on some new titles: Turtles!, Circus! and more.


Kym Wright

18-year homeschooling veteran mom of 8


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