Monday, September 29, 2008

Taking the Plunge

I think I might be re-vamping my entire school curriculum. We are going to give a unit study a trial run this week.

We've been homeschooling for several years and I've always thought unit studies would be a great and fun way to learn, but many of them involve so many projects that we would never accomplish - such as building a mote complete with drawbridge around your house.

Many unit study curricula are so freedom-loving that they bombard you with a ton of ideas but no clear-cut plan. I don't do well with the "do-as-you-please" idea. When I was in school, I froze when the teacher would say, "Write a five page paper on any subject you'd like." Now, if they'd give me a subject or idea (i.e. "Why Commoners Never Built Motes Around Their Cottages") I would be on my way to a paper worth placing in the National Archives.

However, I have recently come across a couple of unit studies that actually seem interesting, have many REALISTIC hands-on projects, and are laid out with a day-to-day plan.

Why change to a unit study and why now when the school year is only a few weeks old?

1. I am now at a point where my youngest is 1 year old and the rest are ready and willing to learn. No babies to be nursed and I'm not exhausted with a pregnancy.

2. We will all be learning together - each of the children will be doing the same activities geared for their age and ability. They can encourage one another and I can be involved in their education as I was at the very beginning of this journey.

3. As most of the children will be doing the same thing at the same time, I won't be pulled in 4 or 5 different directions at once.

4. This type of learning appeals to all learning styles. I have readers, talkers, and doers and there's something for everyone.

5. Why now? Why wait another whole year when I could spend time with my children as they have fun learning TODAY? Also, as we are trying to decide what is best for our oldest child, this may be a great way for him to get excited about learning again and be able to stay at home instead of sending him to Christian School.

6. This, hopefully, will provide us with more time for the things Christians ought to be busy doing - writing letters, making cookies for neighbors, visiting, etc. As it is, some of my children are in the other room working in their textbooks until 4 or 5:00 every day. Where does that leave time to think of others?

I realize that this may seem idealistic. This is why we are giving this unit study a trial run. The BJU books aren't up on eBay, yet!:) If you think to pray for us this week, I would appreciate it. I'll let you know how it goes.


Ginger said...

Hey Vickie!
We are doing a unit study next week on Mary Jemison. We then will take a field trip on the 13th to Letchworth state park. We are adding in the American Indian as well. If you are interested let me know!

the reynolds said...

Yay Vickie!...while I have admired your schedule, curriculum and down to business homeschooling, I realize I could never do it, although I thrive on structure. I also thrive on reality. Living on a farm gives plenty of both. My dc have learned so much because of the freedom to explore and they have taught us as parents TONS! I wholeheartedly endorse the unit studies and learning together as a family (look at your Bible time with your children). In a nutshell....I am excited for you as the possibilities unfold. I guess I have an advantage - I have 4 graduates who can look back on their homeschooling years and tell me what they loved and learned from. You can do it!!!

Sarah...the Momma! said...

I am so excited for you! This is a great adventure. No matter what you end up doing, learning as a family is never a waste.
Just do a little at a time if it is don't have to jump in all at once. We will be praying!
I am here if you need to bounce off any ideas!

Victoria said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU sooo very much for your encouragement!!!! I'm so blessed to have friends and family so willing to help - I'll be e-mailing you often, I am sure!!!:)

Amy said...

Way to go Mrs. McCracken! Your children will forever love you for this!! I have so MANY awesome memories of neat school projects where we all jumped in and learned together... studying the civil war...writing a letter as if I were Clara experimnets... indians, forts, lots of stories and simply plenty of hands on learning- like David buliding a gun from the parts of old piano.:) Now with Mom doing FIAR- I'm shocked how much I've learned just listenig in!! Like the gondolas in Italy, why the water of the Yangtze river is yellow, the lives of coal miners and the importance of being grateful( read "The Rag Coat":)and what "onomatopoeia" is... Incrediable! I wish you the best!

JulieMom said...

Good for you! I am always scared of the freedom associated with unit studies as well.

But you may have spurred me on to trying it. I think I'll wait and see how you do first, though.


Carolee's Corner Canary Islands said...

Good for you Vickie! I marvel at how well you keep your home organized, and I am sure you will do well with unit studies. Sounds like fun!

ANGEL said...

Good for you Vickie! I can't wait to hear how it goes! This approach is so much fun!