What are Unit Studies?

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TRADITIONAL APPROACH

Traditionally, school subjects are taught in parallel. There are reading primers to teach reading, spelling books to teach spelling, vocabulary lists to teach vocabulary, catechism books to teach religion, and so on. This method of teaching is insurance for the teacher that she has covered every element needed in each subject. But does it guarantee that the student is learning and remembering and applying what they are studying? Not necessarily. The hours are filled with laborious tasks but retention is often poor, especially for the active or less scholarly child.

THE UNIT STUDY APPROACH

In contrast, unit studies weave all the subjects together. If the unit being studied is Ancient Egypt, the student will read books about Egypt for his reading class and he will study the words with which he is unfamiliar for his vocabulary and spelling class. Map skills and library skills are mastered as he researches the Nile River and the Egyptian climate. He finds out about the preservation and decay of organic material while probing the mummification process. Investigating the construction of the pyramids affords the younger student the opportunity to learn about square pyramids while the older student explores geometric principles. The mythological beliefs of these ancient people are compared to the truths of the Christian faith. Appropriate lessons from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Sacred Scriptures are pondered, and memorized as necessary, to build a firm awareness of our Faith. Opportunities for developing virtue are offered to solidify these precepts.

THE FINAL PRODUCT

With unit studies, many subjects are interwoven around one central theme, producing a beautiful, unique tapestry that is sturdy and resilient. Although no two tapestries will be the same because each family will tailor the units for their family, every finished piece will be strong, the strength coming from the firm understanding attained from a multi-sensory, integrated study program. Concepts learned in this fashion will be remembered long after the books are shut and the classes are a distant memory. Woven cloth will stand the tests of time.