View Full Version : Unit Study lengths

05-20-2015, 02:58 PM
I'm finishing my fourth year of HSing and I think I may have finally found the best format for all of us (boys, 8 & 12): unit studies. Our most memorable learning times have come during unit studies. I can't keep us on any kind of schedule for different subjects in one day, even when I leave a lot of time for each one. I need the flexibility, my sons need the structure of knowing exactly what we will be doing.

Anyhow, I'm switching over to this full time, now. I'm going to mostly create the units from scratch, as nothing pre-made has really fired up my boys. So much stuff is repetitive or dumbed down. But they LOVED our Geology Unit last fall, which I created from a hodgepodge of sites and books and experiences. I'm doing a mini-unit on Lewis and Clark this summer, and will do another mini-unit during our coast hike this fall. After that, I have a Chemistry curriculum from ACS that I'm going to do (I know, I just said I wasn't going to use pre-planned units, but I know nothing about Chemistry and so far I really like it).

This is all a really long way to ask: How long are your unit studies on average? Do you do other subjects outside of your unit study? I'm going to have math separate. I also am going to have my eldest son do a literature course separately--he wants to, and he needs the practice in writing papers and could use more directed teaching of literary devices (which he agrees and wants to be better at, can't beat that). I asked my youngest if he wanted to do two units at a time, one with his brother, the other on different animals (something he really loves and connects with). He was excited. I was thinking of keeping his extra unit simple--reading books about a specific animal, watching documentaries, seeing the animal in person if possible, and creating a poster during/at the end.

Is this normal? Or do most people who adhere to unit studies only do that one subject before moving onto another? How long do you do a study? I can see the Chemistry taking up most of the rest of 2015, as we won't get back from our hike until the end of September, and the rest of the year provides a lot of distractions (birthdays galore, holidays, etc.). After that, do I try to plan units for a month? Two months? I was thinking of alternating science and history units, incorporating the rest of "normal" subjects into them (writing, reading, critical thinking, art, science and history regardless if the main subject is history or science).

Our Geology Unit was two months, our Lewis and Clark is about two weeks, our hiking trip is scheduled for four weeks, but there won't be a lot of time devoted to learning. Two months seemed like a great length, but I get sidetracked by life easily and worry about making any one subject too drawn-out (which is currently happening right now, but to be fair, I kind of just highjacked one subject this Spring--history--because everything else was falling apart, so it's not as if it was planned properly).

Sorry this is drawn-out. I feel like after four years I should know what I'm doing, but I'm floundering this year.

05-20-2015, 05:33 PM
I have no clue, but I like your question. I'm wondering the same things. Unit studies seem like the way to go with DS4 since he gets obsessed with a subject and loves to learn every detail. He's especially attracted to science. Dinosaurs and space at the moment.

05-22-2015, 03:44 AM
I typed in "how long are unit studies" in google chrome. I got a LOT of information that I think you will enjoy looking through. Although, it appears a unit study can be any amount of time chosen by you, it is generally 1 month long. Thank you for bringing this up. I've noticed we have sort of hit a plateau in enthusiasm. I didn't really realize what unit studies was. I was actually quite wrong about my thoughts since I never really looked into this approach. I think we may give it a whirl, too. I recall years ago using Evan-Moor for Plymouth Village and the kids enjoyed it.

05-22-2015, 10:57 AM
We did a few earlier this year and carried on until interest petered out. Have you read the book 'Project Based Homeschooling'? It might have some stuff that's helpful; I feel like projects and units kind of overlap.

05-22-2015, 02:15 PM
Thank you for the tips, Luv2HS and Ellycp!

05-22-2015, 03:41 PM
I really like the unit studies from BYL, we have done the Thanksgiving one and are currently doing the prehistory one. They are really interesting and the books are easy to get at the library and her hyperlinks to many internet things is really cool. When we do the unit studies, I treat them like our history/science section and I continue to do math, Japanese and some literature, but I agree the kids really do enjoy them.

05-23-2015, 12:24 PM
It really depends. Sometimes it's short ones, 1-2 or 3 weeks maximum, other times we dive right in for a 10-12 weeks. My oldest loves them, for next year though, my youngest will follow a more classical approach, he needs that more. That's going to be interesting LOL

05-24-2015, 12:40 AM
It really depends. Sometimes it's short ones, 1-2 or 3 weeks maximum, other times we dive right in for a 10-12 weeks. My oldest loves them, for next year though, my youngest will follow a more classical approach, he needs that more. That's going to be interesting LOL

Schooling two different kids at two different development stages is for the birds! That's another reason for me going this route--it's much easier to do the two. I want to slough off most of the rest because I can't run two different school days simultaneously. Good luck!

05-24-2015, 05:28 PM
I'm lucky that my oldest is able to do a lot of his work on his own. We'll see how it goes, but I don't expect too many problems. Fingers crossed!

05-24-2015, 06:38 PM
I have to stop in quick and say another thank you to lobgaerts for your input. Your mention of 1-2 week studies has been popping in my head several times. It's a big relief to realize that we can do a short, micro-burst focus, and then just move on. I like the idea of suddenly deciding on taking a break from everything and just gathering all the info we can on some small subject--that not everything has to be super researched and planned. Typing it out, it suddenly seems so "Duh!", but a big part of me *needs* to teach and learn EVERYTHING about a subject. This idea of a one-week (or two week) course will really help those times when I'm frustrated or schedules are crazy.

05-24-2015, 08:34 PM
This thread has been interesting. I like hearing that everyone makes their unit studies last as long, or short, as they want.
Last year I bought a few Intelligo Unit Study topics but we never used them. I am going to try to get to them this year. (I buy a lot of things we don't use or we skip around and use the parts we want.:()