I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled to fit in the fun stuff. Over the years, I’ve learned that relaxed unit studies are the way to go to fill in the gaps and bring joy to our homeschool.
I’m a mom of three, and they are all three years apart. It sounds like a great age gap, but what it really means is that I’ve been teaching basic reading skills for the past 7 years on a daily basis! I may actually burn the phonics charts when we finish with them!! Ha!
All the time we’ve spent getting the basics in and building a strong academic foundation has meant that we have had to leave the fun stuff on the back burner at times. It took a while for me to look around and realize that I didn’t like where our schooling was going, and it was time to make some changes.
I’ve always loved the idea of using unit studies, but the idea was very intimidating to me. I have an academic background and my teaching degree. I could not wrap my head around subject based learning that could get in all the math concepts and reading practice I knew kids needed.
How we stumbled into relaxed unit studies
At the same time, every few weeks we would go to the library. I’d take a list of things we were going to be studying in the next several weeks. I’d find as many books as I could that were related to our life, studies, and travels. We’d go home, and then I’d tell the kids to pick books out of the library bin for our quiet time.
I didn’t realize I was creating my own unit study program every few weeks. The kids were learning. They’d tell me about different features of octopi that I didn’t know. We’d be discussing Greek history and they would run to grab a book and show me a picture. They’d ask a question about a state we’d talked about, and we would be tracking down YouTube videos to watch and discuss.
In-depth learning was happening all around me, and they were having fun….all without messing up their math progress. I’d stumbled right into a learning style that worked for our family, our planning, and it took very little effort.
What exactly is a relaxed unit study?
Over the last several years, we’ve honed in on what works with units, and I now plan our units with purpose. To us, a relaxed unit study is simply extending a subject that we will encounter through our studies or through life. We do so by finding media resources to further our learning. We add in a few activities to our schedule to extend the learning, and we use different methods to evaluate what we’ve learned.
If I was going to give the idea of a relaxed unit study a definition, I’d say:
“A relaxed unit study is a method to study a subject further through different forms of media. The study is done without pressure, and the activities are designed to be easy and fun. Relaxed unit studies focus on enjoying the learning process while taking in deeper information on a subject.
How do relaxed unit studies help us fit in the fun stuff?
By taking just a few minutes to think through extending the learning about a subject, I easily add enjoyment to the learning part of a day. In our house, we simply use our unit study books as our quiet time reading. As my oldest grows, I’m also assigning unit study books as part of her agenda.
Planning a study should take only minutes. A quick library search, Google search, or Netflix/YouTube search should bring up a plethora of resources to use for your studies. Choose fun activities or activities that fit seamlessly into your day. (Like making a dinner dish based on a country or time period. You’re already making dinner, why not make it interesting?)
The goal with this type of unit study is to make learning interesting, fun, and easy to accomplish. Add in reading practice or math if you want, but don’t feel like your unit studies have to be the focus of your family’s learning. With relaxed unit studies, you get the interest of a unit study without worrying you’re going to miss a necessary academic point.
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