When my daughter finds a topic she loves she latches on like a dog to a bone. She wants more and can’t seem to get enough. Maybe you can relate? This is where unit studies come in.
Unit studies are the perfect way to engage an intense kiddo.
When we began homeschooling I tried to rush through her interests to get back to my homeschool plans. I never stopped to realize the damage I was doing by squashing her curiosity. I slowly saw her love for learning fading a little more each day.
One day, that little girl looked at me with so much passion in her eyes I thought they would burst and said, “Mom, wouldn’t it be fun to do school with Jack and Annie?” Jack and Annie are characters from the Magic Tree House book series. They were her favorite books and had become friends to her through their stories.
I immediately dismissed her like I always do. But later I started thinking about the passionate look in her eyes and how quickly it faded upon my dismissal. So, I did what any mom would do. I reread all of the books and wrote out a plan. A plan that would allow us to study the Magic Tree House books as unit studies.
I will never forget the joy she had when I told her that for first grade we would be doing Jack and Annie school. I had reignited her love for learning.
Unit Studies Are Ideal For Gifted Learners
The following school year we did nothing but unit studies. We studied things like dinosaurs, medieval times, Ancient Egypt, pirates, and more. I could have never planned the rabbit trails we went down or the immense learning that took place. It was at that moment that I realized unit studies were the perfect way to homeschool her.
In the years that followed unit studies became our main form of learning. Unit studies focus on topics or themes my daughter is truly interested in. That way, she is more likely to remember the things she learns. It’s also a great way to satisfy her desire to know all the things on a specific topic.
This has made such a significant difference in her learning. It really is an ideal way to support a gifted learner.
So, what does this really look like in our day to day homeschooling?
My first step is always a plan. Some of them are much more involved than others, but my unit study plans usually follow the same basic process.
How To Plan A Unit Study
Choose a Topic
I think it’s really important to focus on my child’s interests if at all possible. However, I think you can also pick something relevant such as a field trip you know you have coming up or maybe a holiday.
Search Your Home
Collect all the things you already have that match the topic or theme of your study. I usually walk around my house searching for applicable resources such as books, games, hands-on activities, and manipulatives.
Don’t Forget Technology
Search all of your streaming services (Curiosity Stream, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+) for documentaries that would complement the topic you are studying about. Make a YouTube playlist. And look in the app store for a new app too.
Getting it All Done
I like to place all of my unit study materials in a basket or bin and let my daughter pick and choose. I mean it is her education, so she should have some say in it. And because I am the one gathering the material, I know it is all appropriate.
I know chances are we won’t get to everything I have planned for us to do. But, that’s okay! We just work through the materials answering all of her questions and diving in as deep as she wants. When she is ready to move on, we do.
The Incredible Advantages of Unit Studies
Love of Learning
Unit studies help an intense child love learning. Especially if you choose a topic they are interested in. It is like saying that you hear them and value their opinions and interests. You are helping them learn about things they love and in return they develop a love for learning in general.
The frustration that came when I tried to force my plans was ruining our relationship. Many times our homeschool days ended in tears. Since incorporating unit studies as our main method of homeschooling the tears happen less frequently. That has allowed our relationship to flourish. Our relationship has taken such a big turn that she now knows she can say “Hey Mom, let’s spend a year at Hogwarts” and I will totally oblige!
Beautiful, Engaging Unit Studies To Save You Time
A Note From Colleen:
Isn’t Jessica an absolute natural in creating this type of learning? We have been using her unit studies off and on over the years and I am constantly amazed at what she comes up with and the professionalism of her products.
She is a true friend in writing this for me here at Raising Lifelong Learners, but I also want to make sure you know that she is THE SOURCE for beautiful engaging unit studies on her own site, The Waldock Way.
Jessica Waldock is a writer, photographer, and homeschool mom of one living in sunny Florida. She founded The Waldock Way as a way to give back to the homeschool community that she loves so much. At The Waldock Way Jessica shares tips, tricks, inspiration, and unique resources that help ignite a love of learning in children that will last a lifetime. She inspires families to engage in homeschooling as a lifestyle where relationships come first and interested led learning prevails. Jessica also has a fabulous collection of unit studies on her website and shares generously on her YouTube channel.
You can find Jessica and The Waldock Way online at all the following sites:
Take a look at all she has to offer. I know you will be as impressed as I am! ~ Colleen