Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Best Unit Study Group Ever

Years ago a friend shared something she had discovered about organizing a group activity for homeschoolers. She said, “I can last about six weeks.” In other words, when organizing an activity where you as the parent are very involved, it is realistic to give your all for six weeks and then need a change or a break.

But how do you organize activities for your children for the whole year without burning out? How do you work with other homeschool parents to share the load so that you really are supporting each other?

For us the answer came in a Unit Study group that another friend invited our family to participate in one year. It was such a success that we used this model in organizing groups for years after that. It’s pretty simple and doesn’t put a huge load on any one parent.

The group focused on a chosen age range and was organized so that there were five families participating. This number works out well with the number of weeks there are in a school year. It also keeps the group at a size that will provide a lot of fun interaction between families. But the group is still small enough to be able to meet in most home.

The year is divided into six week segments, allowing two units before the holidays and the other three from January to May. Each parent chooses a unit study topic and one of the six week segments. That six week unit study is then planned and hosted by that family. Usually it’s fun to have a culminating activity the last week of each unit. For instance, when we studied the ocean we took the group to visit a nearby Seabase during feeding time. Watching the attendant feed the nurse sharks and helping to feed some of the other fish left and impression on every family. When we studied the Civil War, the family hosting this unit, set up tents for the North and the South as their culminating activity. The students each chose a person from the civil war and wrote a report. Depending on what side their person fought on determined which tent they sat by. The kids enjoyed the activities during this unit and this day gave each student an opportunity to prepare a presentation and get out of their comfort zone.

These and many other unit studies provided some great experiences and learning that my children still talk about years later.


Farmer M said...

I have been homeschooling for 5 years now and have a son with ADHD (ADD~myself). This is the best way to homeschool so that NO ONE gets too burned out especially mama;) Thanks so much for the post, I am sharing it because I think a lot of homeschoolers would benefit from it!

Melanie said...

Thanks Michelle! Burnout is definitely a big issue for homeschoolers. Any time we can find something that helps us stay as far away from burnout as possible its a plus.