Whether you're a faith-based or secular homeschool, unit studies are for you!
Why do I make such a bold statement?
- Science and math are statistically the most challenging subjects for so many in the homeschool community to tackle with their kids.
- There is a lot of resistance learning math and science among both parents and children.
Why is this? It stems from the mainstream education's dry, boring, and disconnected way most of us have been taught math and science. The way we've all been taught mathematics and science, i.e. from textbooks, is disconnected from real life application and use, and has too many times knocked the living creative wind out of the guts of so many mortals living today.
I'll show you some good genuine reasons why you NEED to use the unit study style to help you and your kids fall in love with math and science.
You will become far more motivated learning with unit studies than by using a traditional curriculum. You'll WANT to tackle these tougher subjects head on and inspire homeschool math and science studies using the brilliant move of the UNIT STUDY!
What is a Unit Study?
A unit study starts with a central topic your child is most interested in studying. Let's say your child is fascinated with everything elephants. They want to learn everything they possibly can about elephants from how big they grow, what they eat, how far they can blow water, how smart they are, to how they give birth (there's your physiology and biology). Your child even has a stuffed animal elephant collection and they have named them all.
This is a sure sign of an opportunity to really dive deep and explore elephants with your child. Heck! You might even fall in love with the glorious pachyderms (latin for elephant in case you didn't already know that) for yourself!
Starting with elephants, you AND your child begin gathering books and resources for them to go deep and learn about their biology, math related to them, famous elephants in human history, elephants in literature etc. Be sure to follow your child's specific learning curiosities.
You can cover as many academic subjects that fit naturally into the study of elephants. You can get super creative when you begin to see the connections there are with one topic of study and how it can naturally brings in the rest of the academics.
This can be done all without having to sweat it trying to find that latest handwriting curriculum that will finally get your kid to want to write. Your child can find TONS of creative writing opportunities about elephants.
Writing a creative story about their favorite stuffed elephant will excite them a whole lot more than having to trace the word elephant 5 times on a lined paper. Believe you me. Been there. Done that. Over it!
Follow the child's natural learning curiosity. Always! Unit studies afford a beautiful structure to do just that.
How to create your own unit studies the easy way. Check out my FREE unit study planner below.
Here are the 5 reasons you NEED to do homeschool math and science unit studies.
1. Unit studies will help you and your child forget about the math and science phobias.
It's pure genius really. When you invite your child to choose a topic of interest, starting with science (or any subject really), you both will get so excited about the topic, you'll just straight out forget about any learning phobias. You'll get into the spirit of learning for the pure joyous joy of learning.
How do you get into the spirit of learning with your child instead of resisting their choices?
- Go to the library and pick out books together.
- Choose DVD's about the topic.
- Begin immersing yourselves in all the glories of the topic.
- And remember, best of all, have fun!
2. Focusing on Science will connect you and your child back to the Earth.
As a species, we're distancing ourselves dangerously away from our connection to the earth. When you study the sciences such as the following, it brings you back into connecting with the Earth in a fun and meaningful way. Check out the different sciences your child can choose from. They may already know what they're excited to learn, but, go ahead and introduce this list to them and see how they respond:
- Life science (plant and animal kingdoms)
- Chemistry (who doesn't love to mix potions and make explosions in the bathtub or backyard)
- Weird science (ya know, those funny slime experiments that kids love so much?)
- Physics (animal gliding flight, kangaroos jumping, fish swimming)
- Botany (plants, moss, flowers, trees)
- Earth Science (yahooo...rocks, minerals - gems and volcanoes!)
- Biology (biology of elephants!)
- Nature study (nature IS science)
and so much more!
3. Starting with a science topic, mathematics will ALWAYS naturally follow, thus giving you an opportunity to cover math in non-threatening way.
Are you one of those homeschool parents that is scared of teaching math and science to your kids? Doing child-centered fun inspired unit studies together will help you see the beauty of math that is found everywhere around us. For example, if you do the Mentos and Diet coke Experiment that kids go in crazy love for, you can derive mathematics from that experiment.
Doing this kind of high intensity experiment yields some insane fun. You soon forget that you're doing math as you record the mathematical results of the experiment in your journal log.
4. It will be so much easier to get your kids to cooperate if they're learning something they're interested in.
Providing learning resources that interested kids took me some years to find out, but, once I got it, I was off like a rocket in my private school classrooms finding my students learning curiosities and running with it.
I set up several science centers or learning stations around our large classroom. The kids engaged wherever their curiosity led them. I observed that without me standing their teaching in front of them all day, they exercised personal choice based on genuine learning interest.
The kids really tackled the projects and experiments at these learning stations with vigor, fervor, persistence, and their enthusiasm for coming to my classes increased 10-fold! Your kids enthusiasm for their education will sky-rocket too when you decide to run with their learning interests! Pun absolutely intended!
5. Doing science and math unit studies your child wants to do gives your child a chance to take on the responsibility for their own education.
So many kids are super stoked and excited about doing science. And when they discover the living connections there are between math and science, their love will grow for math likewise! Take this excitement and enthusiasm your child has and help channel it into them helping you get the study together. They can help you gather the materials, set up the math and science center, gather the materials for a science project, and more. This will instill in them a sense of ownership for their learning.
Tip: Don't Fear the Mess that will ensue!
Many parents fear the physical mess from experiments and projects or the jargon of pursuing doing science at home. You'll have to let go of these fears as you and your kid dive into the study. Again, make it known to them that it's important that they help you clean up afterwards. You can sing a song together or play music to get 'er cleaned up and done after each project or experiment.
Tip: Unit Studies can be done using free stuff around the house
There are so many ways to use free stuff you have just laying around the house, you don't even have to step into a store to buy anything. Ask your kids to help you gather the supplies for whatever science projects they're choosing to do.
Get creative and dive in deep as you scour the house together for paper, cardboard, yarn, food coloring, etc. and set up a science center in your basement or attic. Let your kid become the mad scientist they've always dreamed of becoming.
Are you a secular homeschool parent looking for secular curriculum? Do unit study math and science for an electrifying experience for both you and your child! You can tailor your study using the secular resources you want.
Are you interested in your kids desire and motivation for learning to SKY-ROCKET this homeschool year?
Grab my unit study planner below. You'll be amazed at how easy it can be to plan out your homeschool year 90 days out with this planner.
I don't suggest planning more than 90 days out as your child's interests can vastly change much sooner than that. Be prepared to flex with their interests and don't be afraid to adjust your state reporting accordingly. The reporting agencies will live!
If you liked this. post, check out these posts:
- 10 Tips for Gloriously Relaxed Homeschool Math
- How to Use the Sharks Online Unit Study in Your Homeschool
Thank you for reading!
Gloria Brooks aka NatureGlo
Hi, I'm Gloria, aka NatureGlo. Since 2011, I've had the privilege of teaching/facilitating thousands of faith-based and secular homeschool and unschool families around the globe.
I hold a BA in K - 12 education, certificates from the Wilderness Awareness school, and over 20 years of eclectic teaching and child self-directed learning experiences in private schools, and now homeschool online courses with NatureGlo's eScience (NeS).
NatureGlo's eScience is a one-stop nature-based eLearning center for ages 10 - 18 helping your kids fall in love with the natural world while covering their other academics.