Unit Studies? Too Much of a Good Thing

by S.C. Torrington on January 20, 2010

Set01Auto3imagesFrom_drk0093But hey, that’s just me. Actually that’s my son. About three years in to our home educating experience, I learned that my then-eight-year-old was not of the emersion-mindset. But, in a moment of weakness, I thought it was worth a try.

We’d used the Calvert Homeschool curriculum since leaving public school after first grade. Even though I’d twist their lesson plans to fit our worldview, its old-fashioned, book-learnin’ format was an easy transition for Morgan after his two years of classroom experience.

Every summer, our school-in-a-box would arrive on our doorstep. Aside from household materials for science experiments and some optional math manipulatives, everything we needed for an academic school year was in that box – down to the pink eraser. All the step-by-step lessons plans were there. I could schedule our life. I’d be giddy.

But was I cheating? Maybe, I thought, I should try a less “home-school-y” format. Granted, I wasn’t ready to make that Unschooling leap-O-faith. But this Unit Study thing sounded like a fun option for my son and an organizing opportunity for this OCD gal. Pick a topic in which your child has expressed an interest. Then run it into the ground.

Or at least that’s what happened with our Weather Unit. I can’t remember exactly what prompted that specific subject-selection. Maybe a severe thunderstorm or hurricane watch. But I announced that I was going to develop a Unit Study about Weather. (Because, you see, that’s what real home educators do – develop their child’s curriculum.)

So over the course of a week, I planned, plotted and shuffled 3×5 cards to schedule our saturation by the weather world. The four-week foray was to include alotta cloud watching, drawing and creating; a visit to a local weather station, the beach and the supermarket; natural disaster documentaries and the local meteorologist’s forecasts. Plus, what I considered, a lively reading of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs long before it was a movie.

Morgan was done with Weather halfway through Day Three of Twenty-eight. Shit, now what? Back to the box.

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