Unit Studies - Home Schooling

Integrating several subjects around one common theme

The unit studies method of home schooling, sometimes called the integrated studies method or the thematic unit method, is quite popular. In the unit study method, the parents teach several subjects at once, around the context of a single, broad theme. For example, a unit study of ancient Rome could combine lessons in art, history, social studies, science and language. There is really no limit to what lessons can be taught other than the limits of the parents' imaginations.


Benefits for Parents

The main advantage of using the unit studies method it that it's flexible. It can be as structured or unstructured as parents wish. This flexibility is especially beneficial to home school environments with more than one child. Each unit of study is adaptable, so children of varying ages can learn different, age-appropriate lessons based on the same unifying theme. This cuts down drastically on preparation time.

Another reason for the popularity of unit studies may lie in the fact that this method is quite cheap. It's common practice in a home using the unit studies method to rely heavily on the local library, the Internet and other available sources to augment each unit of study with relevant information.

Benefits for Children

Parents who use the unit studies method argue that their children seem to retain more information relating to, and have a better overall understanding of, each unit covered than if they had been taught using an alternate method. In fact, advocates of unit studies contend that children taught within a unit studies framework retain a whopping 45 percent more information than other children. However, this figure isn't verified, and may be nothing more than a product of the "my method is best" ideology that can be found in the culture of home school.

The unit studies method is great for homes that have children with different learning styles. There are always numerous options for learning about a topic. Children who are visual learners can read a book or an online encyclopedia, while other children can be given a hands-on activity or a creative arts assignment.

Getting Started

For those interested in unit studies, there's a great deal of information available online. One can purchase pre-written units that come with instructions for activities to run for your child. There are also free resources, such as blogs, in which home schoolers write about various units and their accompanying activities that their children have learned and enjoyed.