With the Unit Study method, families organize their learning around a central theme. There are so many different ways to use this strategy. A theme could be topical (like space, insects, or the Civil War) or seasonal (such as learning about maple syrup in early spring or snow during winter). There are literature-based unit studies where the homeschool centers around a particular book like Little House on the Prarie. Some homeschoolers even center their learning around a specific virtue like perseverance or kindness. Each unit can last a week, a month, or a whole school year.
Is the Unit Study Method Right for You?
- Do you want to dive deep into topics that excite you and your kids?
- Do you like the idea of having everyone in the family learning about the same topic together?
- Is it important to you to help children make connections across many different disciplines?
- Are you worried you won’t have time (or energy) to teach each of your multiple children their own separate curriculum?
- Is fun a major priority for your homeschool?
If so, you might be a good fit for the Unity Study approach.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Unit Study Approach
In many ways, the Unit Study approach is a more holistic, integrated approach to education. Instead of studying each subject in isolation, students engage many different academic disciplines at the same time. This encourages students to make their own connections to the material, which results in more meaningful, long-lasting learning. In addition, it’s easy to tailor a Unit Study education to a student’s own interests, making learning more enjoyable and stoking existing passions.
An advantage for the parent-teacher is that planning can be simplified when all children are exploring the same topic. Instead of having to prepare age-graded materials for each student, you can collect a variety of books and materials to engage one topic on many different levels. More advanced learners interact with the materials in deeper, more complex ways, but the central topic saves time in pulling together resources. This advantage is especially helpful for large families with a wide age range of learners.
Critics of the Unit Study method suggest that skipping around from one topic to the next prevents students from making systematic progress in subjects where skills must be built over time. A Unit Study approach might be fine, they argue, for subjects like history or literature, but in areas like math, grammar, spelling, and writing, skills must be developed in a more focused and organized way. They fear a Unit Study style might lead to gaps in this important skill areas.
Many Unit Study homeschoolers do use a separate curriculum for certain subjects such as math. Others use a traditional homeschool curriculum, but weave in special unit studies from time to time. But it certainly is possible to build your entire homeschool around unit studies and reap the benefits of an integrated learning.
Curriculum and Resources to Explore
Unit Study Resources to Consider:
- The Homeschool Daily Planner for Unit Studies
- Abigail Adams: A Woman Ahead of Her Time: A Cross- Curricular Unit
- Answers in Genesis Pilgrim’s Progress Study
- The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study
- Further Up & Further In: A Unit Study Based on the Chronicles of Narnia
- Heart of Dakota
- Homeschool in the Woods
- The Prairie Primer: A Literature Based Unit Study Utilizing the Little House Series
- Weaver Unit Studies
Articles to Explore:
Unit Study Homeschoolers to Follow:
Jessica at The Waldock Way
Lindsay at Little School of Smiths
Christina at Rooted Home Life
Danielle at Raising Lil Wild Ones
Not Sure If Unit Studies Are Right for You?
Take our quiz to discover your homeschooling style!
Or explore other styles of homeschooling here: