Home Education, Reviews

How Unit Studies Changed Our Homeschool

As homeschooling evolves, there are more and more methods and styles surfacing. One of the newest methods is known as the Unit Study Method, and a lot of homeschooling families are loving it! The biggest reason is they practically fit any learning style. 

What are unit studies?

Unit studies are what they sound like… You are basically using the study of a particular topics or concept to teach across several (if not all) subject areas. Unit studies have changed the way I homeschool and I can’t say I’m ever going back. Plus, I want to tell you about one of the coolest resources you should check out for summer fun learning!

4 Reasons to Give Unit Studies a Try

Unit Studies give my kids a variety of ways to learn.

Whether we are studying butterflies, the ocean, or a certain culture, my kiddos get a variety of ways to learn about the chosen topic. Through books (especially living books), field trips, videos, and hands-on activities, they never get bored.

Not to mention, a variety of ways to learn is super important when you’re homeschooling multiples.

Unit Studies have the ability to cover any and every subject.

At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to get those “tough subjects” in. As I started researching and finding resources, I quickly realized that it would be easy.

For example, we are currently doing a Butterfly Nature Study using a resource from Holistic Homeschooler. In this resource, she provides over 20 pages of printables that touch science, handwriting skills through copywork, reading, and geography. When you come across a resource like this, it’s like hitting jackpot!

Unit Studies open the door to deeper understanding.

With almost every unit study we did last homeschool year, my kiddos have been intrigued to want to learn more about the subject or was led to want to discover something else.

Best part about this is it shows that their minds are hard at work, and they are eager to learn more or learn something new. With Holistic Homeschooler’s Butterfly Nature Study Packet, my kiddos learned how to identify butterflies. Now when we go outside, they are on the lookout for butterflies and get super excited to be able to identify them!

Unit Studies make education flexible.

Going back to the Butterfly Nature Study… the flexibility of this resource is amazing. I am homeschooling three kiddos (at the time) with a six-month-old baby in tow so it’s important for me to score resources that meet various levels of learning.

The ability to have printables on hand for my toddler, preschooler, and fourth grader has made learning about butterflies and their nature smooth. When we can group learning together, it makes it so much more fun!

A Unit Study You Should Try

As you can probably already tell, the resource I want to tell you about is Holistic Homeschooler’s Butterfly Nature Study Packet. Upon receiving this resource I knew it was going to be a perfect fit for our homeschool because I’m homeschooling multiples from toddler to fourth grade.

Anytime a resource offers printables that all the kids can use, I’m all for it. The Butterfly Nature Study Packet comes with beautifully made printables, two of which I decided to print and laminate {the butterfly anatomy and life cycle pages} so the kids could practice identification with what is now a reusable resource.

The fact that this resource aligns with the Charlotte Mason method means that my kiddos are seeing real life pictures of butterflies and the life cycle process. There is also a list of living books that can be found at the public library to incorporate.

This really brings learning to life and helps my children learn about the nature of a butterfly in a realistic way. This resource also fit perfectly with some other resources I used for our unit study of butterflies. Its a win-win and that’s why I recommend that you check out Holistic Homeschooler’s Butterfly Nature Study Packet. You’re welcome. 🙂

Psst… if you’re looking for ways to incorporate unit studies into your homeschool, I recommend checking out my free unit study lesson plans page. It is chocked full with {free} resources you can use from printables to videos!

CHIME IN: do you use Unit Studies as part of your homeschooling? If so, what are some of your subjects/topics to study?

Home Education, Reviews

Tips for Homeschooling an Advanced Child

Families homeschool for various reasons, and meeting their child’s true academic abilities is among the top. You may hear a lot about special needs homeschooling when it comes to developmental delays, disorders, or other seemingly negative diagnosis. But what about the other end of the spectrum? The children who seem to be advanced.

I knew we had an advanced child on our hands before we decided to homeschool. While in public school, our oldest son thrived. I’m thankful for his preschool and kindergarten teachers who saw that and allowed him to participate in accelerated learning. That is not always the case for most students, hence, why homeschooling becomes a valid option.

Now that your advanced child is home, the question becomes – How in the world am I going to teach him/her… and what?

What I’m going to share with you in this post are two main ways to encourage the advanced child, tips on how to do, and the curriculum resources I highly recommend. I also offer a product review* for a curriculum we recently started using (and love)! Oh, and there’s a YouTube video + GIVEAWAY (scroll to the bottom if you want to see and enter that first *wink*)!

When it comes to being advanced, there are two main categories: subject-specific advancement and superior level of mental processing. I am more experienced with subject-specific advancement as that is the category our son falls into. He is “up to par” in certain subjects, while in others, he is grade levels ahead.

Having identified the appropriate category for your child, it’s time to consider ways to encourage them. Keep in mind that every child is different, so no single option will work for every situation. Not allowing flexibility for change is a sure way to reach stressed and overwhelmed with the quickness!

Accelerated Learning

Accelerated learning is usually a homeschooling parent’s first thought to consider when teaching and advanced child. This method says, “I’ll just keep jumping up grade levels until I find one that challenges you.” That is totally fine; however, there is the concern of age-appropriate concepts.

Curriculum and resources are typically written with a child’s developmental stage in mind. What that means is what a tenth grader can handle, a ten-year-old may not be mature enough for. Of course this is all at the discretion of the parents, but totally worth noting.

We have chosen to incorporate accelerated learning in the subject of ELA (English-Language Arts). He uses a High School-level spelling list and recently started a writing curriculum geared toward 6th-10th grade-levels. In other subjects such as Science and Social Studies, he averages at a mid to high middle school range… so we make appropriate accommodations for that too (keep reading for my list of go-to resources).

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Deepened Learning

Deepening the advanced child’s learning experience can seem difficult to do, but in actuality it isn’t. This is where finding a flexible curriculum, incorporating extra resources, considering a multi-disciplinary approach, and maybe even doing project-based learning comes into play.

Flexible Curriculum

This type of curriculum allows you to have your child work at a different grade level in a single subject. It also helps to keep them engaged and challenged.

Incorporating Extra Resources

This method keeps the child within the grade level, but allows you to deepen their learning by providing additional resources to expand on. This typically results in a more complete understanding of material.

Multi-disciplinary Approach

This method incorporates several subject, which is quite easy to do. Take the study of Thomas Edison, for example. Instead of just learning a bit about who he is or what he did, the advanced child may dive into what life was like in his time. They may write a report on how lives were changed. Perhaps they will to an ancestry research to see who in their family was alive during that time. They could add in math by calculating additional hours worked because of electricity. And so on…

Project-based Learning

This method allows children to explore a subject from many different areas. It’s where experiential learning meets practical knowledge combined with academic study. There are a number of ways to make this happen. From community service to 4-H related activities, this is can sometimes be an advanced child’s favorite way to learn.

Resources to Consider

Over the years I’ve built up quite a stash when it comes to keeping my son challenged. Below is a quick-list of resources we actively use and that I highly recommend (watch video to see them):

When it comes to my last suggestion, Write Shop I & II, I want to expand a bit. You see, I’m one of those homeschooling mamas that hears, “WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!” when I think about using a pre-made, detailed curriculum. So, when I was approached to try Write Shop, I was a little reluctant.

I wasn’t sure what I would be getting my son and I into, but I told myself – either it will work, or it won’t. Well, I’m happy to tell you that it is working! With this subject being one of our son’s advanced areas, I am actually quite impressed that it is offering him a challenge, but not too much to make him cry. A motto I’ve adopted when it comes to homeschooling is – no tears, ALL CHEERS! And this couldn’t be more true when choosing a curriculum to use for teaching your advanced child.

I chose to use Write Shop I & II because it helps with developing a strong writing foundation. As a writer myself, this is super important concept that I want my children to learn and know. This writing program is:

  • clear
  • concise
  • focuses on developing a strong paragraph
  • has a wide-range of writing activities
  • focuses on teaching how to refine work (A++)
  • helps parents know exactly what to teach and to evaluate their child’s work

These are key things I want to teach my children and they are all wrapped up in Write Shop I & II. Something else worth noting is the flexibility this program offers. I mention in the video that I like knowing what to do, but not being tied down to having to do it on certain days. There is a mapped out plan for parents who do like to have it laid out, however, we have found ourselves completing several exercises in one day, or taking a day or two longer with others.

Regardless of what we choose, we can stay on track because the student assignments are organized in the student workbook by lesson number. The teacher’s manual lines up with that as well. I also love the fact that the set comes with a teacher’s manual, a student workbook, AND a copying and dictation exercise booklet PLUS The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation!

I’m actually glad that I took the leap of faith and said, “Sure I’ll try it!” because now I can tell you that if you’re reluctant to purchasing a curriculum or aren’t sure where to start – when it comes to ELA, I highly recommend Write Shop! If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend checking our their samples. You can click and download immediately to see what you’d be getting before you buy.

If you’d like a chance to WIN a set or bundle of your choice, then hop in the TIME-SENSITIVE GIVEAWAY (below)! After April 17th it will disappear!

In the meantime, tell me in the comments below if you’ve ever tried Write Shop (any level). Did you like it? Why or why not? If you’ve never hear of them, will you check them out??

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If you need help with finding curriculum and resources to fit your child’s unique academic needs, I have a few limited (and time sensitive) spots for personal homeschool consulting. Fill out this form to get started!

Review Disclosure: We received a free copy of the Write Shop I & II set in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own and were not persuaded in any way.