With the homeschooling conference approaching, I have had to give a little bit of thought to what I want to do next year. In the coming school year I will have two high school students, both of them very different learners. My oldest daughter likes her text books and likes when I map out exactly what she has to do and then leave her alone! Most of the time she groans when I tell her we are all going to do something as a group. I think it is because we slow her down. My next high schooler is definitely one who is an auditory and hands on kind of learner, so the unit study approach works well for her. I have found that planning a unit study around one of the high school topics is a good way to blend us all together. For instance, this coming fall my oldest will be studying the US Government and I just happened to find a unit study on elections that will tie into it. She will also be studying Biology, so I found a great book called "Christian Kids Learn Biology" that the rest of us can use.
In planning my year like this, I have found another great advantage: I save a lot of money. I don't need to buy a bunch of workbooks for each student. There are certain subjects we still use textbooks and workbooks for (like math and map skills), but otherwise I really don't have to spend all that much money. With the inter-library loan system around our area and the availability of the internet, we have many resources at our finger tips. Many times I will just buy a few general books about a subject that we will be studying that we can all use.
I will admit that I am a book fiend and I still do find it hard to shop the vendor hall (or even a catalog) and not be tempted to buy a lot of stuff, most of which I really don't need. At last year's conference I was just about to buy grammar workbooks for some of my children when a friend asked me why I was doing that. She brought me over to the used book section, we found an early version of a good grammar book and she gave me some ideas of how I could incorporate it into whatever we were studying. What a great idea that was!
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that workbooks are bad. Some children do just fine with them. Some mothers do just fine with them. I can tell you that they were just not working for us. I hated what was happening to our schooling and my children hated it, too. It was obvious that something needed to change. After a lot of prayer and research, I knew that this was a better way for us to go. If you are struggling with the workbook way of learning I would urge you to try out a unit study and see if you like it. I can definitely say that it revolutionized our learning!