Pros & Cons of Homeschool Unit Studies

Pros & Cons of Homeschool Unit Studies

If your family is tired of textbook learning, or you have a child who learns best through hands-on projects, unit studies could be your best friend. Unit studies are short or long term curriculum plans that teach most or all of the coursework revolves around the same theme. So, instead of having math, science, history, and language arts as separate subjects, they are all integrated into one subject one a theme, such as horse, the civil war, space, or art history.

Topic-based lessons can be a fascinating way to homeschool. Before beginning them in your homeschool, here are some of the pros and cons of homeschool unit studies.

Free Mushroom Unit Study from The Crafty Classroom

Pros of Unit Studies

Unit studies could be just what your family needs. They are engaging and easily adaptable to various levels. This means the entire family can work together instead of having to teach every child a different program for each subject. Here are some other positive attributes of unit studies.

Passion Led

We are all motivated by our interests. Children learn better and retain more information when they are engaged. The easiest way to engage children is by appealing to their likes. Choose unit studies that your child will love doing. This eliminates the “boredom” of school and makes even the less desirable subject interesting.

Customizable

A unit study is what you make it. It can be on any topic you choose. Even the sky isn’t the limit. Traditional curriculum follows a set pattern. There are only so many different textbooks available. Most are not built around specialized topics. A unit study can also be customized to your family’s schedule and make-up. The same unit study could be used for one student, or adapted to be used with five at different levels.

At Student’s Pace

A homeschool unit study moves at the pace of the student. Unlike traditional lesson plans that tell a student what to do each day. Homeschool unit studies give the student a goal and resources to explore at his own pace. Siblings can explore the same subject matter according to their ability. The point is not to get everything completed, but to master the topic at hand.

Endless Possibilities

The greatest pro for unit studies is the endless possibilities. Anything can become a unit study. They can include field trips, projects, blogs, experiments, and volunteer work. Unit study-based homeschool curriculum is never limited to just books. There is no wrong way to do a unit study and the same topic can be explored many times from different angles.

Cons of Unit Studies

While unit studies have so much to offer, they aren’t for everyone. There are drawbacks to this kind of homeschooling. Before delving into the world of unit studies, consider the following cons.

Can Be Time Consuming

Putting together homeschool unit studies are a good deal of work. It requires much more of an investment than just using a textbook program. You will need to plan out every aspect of the unit study, find resources, create or find projects, and decide what your ultimate goal is. There are pre-made unit study available. These will save time, however, you will still have to gather the resources. Unit studies are doable for most homeschool families. Just make sure to evaluate how much time you have to invest before beginning.

Need to Stay Organized

Tackling a unit study requires organization. You will need to keep on top of what books and resources are needed when. Make sure to allow time for checking out books, ordering supplies, and delivery. Also, it will take a little more attention to stay on top of what students are doing.

Watch the Expenses

Don’t fall down the rabbit hole! Unit studies can easily get very expensive. Be conscious of costs when planning projects, tools, resources, and books. There is so much out there to explore, and so many ways to do it. Have a budget and stick to it. On the topic of getting carried away, it is easy to over-plan and want to do more than is humanly possible to complete. The best unit studies homeschool curriculum does not have to be expensive or elaborate, but it is easy to get carried away.

Non-traditional

Homeschool unit studies are not like traditional schools. There are no daily lesson plans. Assigning grades is not like marking paper tests or quizzes. They are very open-ended and free form. If you like structure and a more traditional school approach, you may not enjoy unit studies. However, unit study homeschool curriculum can be what you make them, just decide how flexible you are willing to be.

Do you have any pros or cons to add?

Now that you are aware of the pros and cons of homeschool unit studies, here’s HOW to create a unit study that’s fantastic and fits your family perfectly!

Or, if you are looking for great examples of fabulous unit studies, grab my favorite free unit studies right here:

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Comments (3)

  • Oksana G Reply

    Yes, there’s a con I haven’e yet figured out how to avoid. When doing a unit study, you chose one topic as central and it will be covered in great detail, the other subjects will get a superficial and sporadic treatment. I am ok if we cover art and music lightly while studying Australia, but I don’t want history to be disjointed. Say, we study countries of the world. What do we cover history-wise? Australia – colonization, Cook’s discovery. Africa (Egypt) – Ancient Egypt, Egypt through time. Africa (North) – Arab invasion, spread of Islam, Maghreb, present. West Africa – Mali Empire (Middle Ages). See what I mean? I end up teaching history separately and chronologically.

    November 10, 2019 at 6:44 pm
    • Crystal

      I was actually surprised to find out that in grades below high school, learning history chronologically doesn’t matter. Kids’ brains can’t really conceptualize history in a linear fashion, it’s all just old stuff that happened in a fog of before I was born.

      But it made sense after I thought about it because how often are we, as adults even we are blown away by things like Anne Frank, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barbara Walters would all be the same age today.

      In younger grades, it is more important for children to be introduced to historical events and draw parallels to their own lives.

      Once they get to late junior high or high school you can start putting it all together in a linear fashion and they will be able to understand it better. I can’t even tell you how excited learning this made me feel. Because when we tried to learn chronologically I felt like history was very stale and boring, but treating it like jumping in a time machine and traveling to different times was a lot more exciting and my kids tend to learn a lot more.

      It’s something to think about.

      February 3, 2021 at 4:26 am
  • A Year of Free and Fascinating Unit Studies - The Crafty Classroom Reply

    […] Unit studies provide flexibility and an alternative to traditional textbook learning. They often save time by combining all the subjects into a single study. However, putting one together can be a tremendous amount of work. That’s why we are so excited to share a year of free homeschool unit studies with you. […]

    January 17, 2020 at 6:00 am

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