Monday, May 19, 2008

Unit Studies - Part I

It's that inevitable time of the year when people begin to ask if we are finished with school yet. The other night my father-in-law was asking us that question when one of my daughters said that she was done already. He started asking her what subjects she had studied this year. Of course she said math, and then went on to list off Latin and art but then stopped. He asked her about English. She responded that we don't really do English. Boy, my sister-in-law got a hoot out of that one. Always ready to spring into action, I tried to explain to them how English is something we conquer amidst all of the other things that we are learning.

I find that this is probably one of the harder things about Unit Studies: There is not a specific workbook or test for each individual subject. We read good literature out loud and independently. We studied grammar during our Latin lessons. We did writing assignments which included drafts and rewrites. We had spelling words. As far as I can tell, this is English. Its just not balled up into a nice, neat little workbook.

Thinking in Unit Study mode definitely requires thinking out of the box. I found that I really had to make a shift in my thinking when I started to teach this way. I had to get over the security of having the concrete workbook and test in my hand that "told" me my child had learned something. In reality, all it really told me was that they memorized something for the short term. All I could do was hope that they retained it for the long term.

The longer we learn with Unit Studies, however, the more I see that it is a way of inching ever more closely towards a more natural way of learning. We might learn about four or five different subjects just by exploring one topic. I like the way that works and I think my kids do, too.

Hopefully I will be able to add more on this subject tomorrow :) God Bless!


  1. Laura I pray I have the courage to try Unit Studies. Especially for Gracey! Keep the columns coming. Praise God! Dolores Wish you were speaking at the Conference this weekend!

  2. Thanks. I'm planning for next year and I'm still not sure which way I'm going yet.....ugh. I love the idea of unit studies, but I'm afraid to try them as yet...
    Plus, I live in PA, which is particularly overbearing in the "paper work" department.
    Oh Well, Pray for me. Pax, EJT