a support and resource group for home education

Unit Studies

Unit studies, also called thematic units or integrated studies, are based on creating units of studies, which link multiplesubjectsaround a common topic or theme – all information is integrated; it is not artificially broken into separate ‘subjects’. Thus, a typical unit study can include not only such traditional educational tools as books and textbooks, but also field trips, arts and crafts projects, interviews with experts in the field, cooking special meals, and visits to the library.

The fun and interactive way of learning makes unit studies a favourite of many families. While some families may use unit studies as their core home education approach, others choose it for supplementing their base homeschooling curriculum.

Families with children of different ages often find unit studies to be the most suitable option, because a topic can easily be adjusted to multiple grade levels. For example, in a unit study of plants, an elder student can make a chart, labelling a plant’s parts and describing their functions, while a younger one can draw his favourite plant or do a colouring page. Likewise, the scope of a unit study also can be adjusted to suit the personalized learning needs of children. A topic can be covered in anywhere from one day to several months, depending on how long the interest of children holds.

How it works
Although many readymade packages of unit studies are available, making your own is very satisfying and not as difficult as it may seem. Starting points for creating one can be many: you may centre around a favourite book, expand on a history reading or simply take as basis a question your child has asked. For example, a question “why are snakebites so bad?” can be expanded into a unit study of snakes as follows:

  • first aid in case ofa snakebite,
  • venom and its use in medicine,
  • structure of a snake’s teeth,
  • characteristics of snakes and reptiles in general,
  • snake charmers in Pakistan and their lifestyle,
  • snakes inthe Quran and thestory of Prophet Musa
  • favourite books with snake characters,
  • visit to a zoo and a diary entry about it.

Thus, through a single unit study, a child would cover science, social studies, medicine, Islamic studies, literature and language arts.

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