If you are a home schooling parent you know how bored children can become with the usual ho-hum of school, especially after the holidays. The holiday excitement has fizzled and your children long for summer break. Keeping them focused can be a challenge. As a teacher and a parent your concern for their education and love of learning is enormous.
However, you also know that changing up curriculum at this point isn’t always financially feasible. Did you know that you can solve this problem, create something fun and educational for your children and do it all for free or at a very low cost? With a few well organized steps you can create a unit study for your child, a great solution for the long days of winter and any other time of the year when you know a change is in order!
In a unit study the majority of your school subject’s centers around a theme. This theme can be a favorite book, a holiday, a person, an important event in history, an animal, or a country. Your list of options is endless. Select a theme you know will hold your child’s interest.
For instance is your is fascinated with horses you can generate several history, science, language arts and geography assignments that all have to do with horses. Include your child in this part of the decision making process. They may offer great ideas that you may not have thought of on your own!
Once a general theme has been decided on find a pencil and a piece of paper and brainstorm for several minutes on all the possibilities your theme has to offer. Think of sub topics, field trips, possible assignments, resources, and what subjects can be easily covered with your theme.
Just let your thoughts roll for several minutes and write everything you think of on paper. There should be no pressure with brainstorming just use this as a platform for your motivation while creating your unit study.
After brainstorming narrow your theme if possible. You may find after looking over your written thoughts that one of your sub topics would make a better theme than the one originally selected. You may choose to study only one breed of horses rather than just horses in general or a specific time period dealing with horses.
After a theme has been narrowed, its time to choose a time frame for your unit study. I suggest that if this is your first time creating a unit study that your study last no longer than a month. You can create short week long unit studies based on most illustrated children’s books very easily. Month long unit studies are great for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Next, you will need to research your topic very well. You can do this through the internet, encyclopedia, and resources from your local library. As a teacher you want to have a good grasp on what you are going to be teaching. Create detailed notes that you can use for reference later. Think of possible questions your inquisitive child may be asking you in the days ahead.
After researching your topic, create a list of possible assignments you may choose to use. Be sure to have lots of variety in your assignments. You can create copy work sheets, work sheets, spelling and vocabulary games, dictation lessons, and discussion questions.
Also consider field trips if possible. If for instance you are studying horses you may be able to find a local farm to tour. You can create simple math word problems using horses, hay, feed, and saddles.
You could produce worksheets using horse clip art on your word processor. You can find stories such as Black Beauty and Misty of Chincoteague to read for language arts.
You can generate a list of spelling words and vocabulary words from these books, as well as copy work and dictation sentences. Think outside of the box. You can create assignments using the internet, library, encyclopedia, text books you already have on hand, and educational videos.
Don’t forget to check out your newspaper and your local extension office as theses can generate great learning experiences as well. Be sure to separate your activities by subject after you have thought of all the possible assignments you would like to do with your child.
Now, it is time to schedule your activities. Find a simple to use daily planner or make your own. Select when each activity should be completed. You can have older children help choose this for their selves if a list of activities to choose from has already been created.
Doing this well help encourage future self-planning and personal responsibility skills. You also should decide how many activities can be completed in one day.
Before you begin the study with your child make sure that you have thoroughly completed all the steps mentioned up to this point. Your assignments should be listed neatly at this point in a planner.
Gather all art supplies you will need such as crayons, markers, construction paper, and scissors. If you use a quote or verse often in the unit study, write these on a chalkboard or dry-erase board and point the text out to your child at the beginning of the study.
You may also want to provide a special folder or notebook just for this unit study to keep your child’s finished work in. Also, keep a record of assignments completed and the grades your child earned.
Once you have completed these few simple steps and have all your material well planned and organized it is time to begin. One thing you mustn’t forget is why this study was created in the first place. You want this to be a fun and educational adventure for your child and yourself as well.
You will most likely be learning with your child while composing your unit study and implementing it with your son or daughter. Learning as a family will be a treasured memory for both parent and child for years to come. With these steps you will surely bring an end to the winter school month’s blues!