Friday, September 19, 2008

Unit Studies, UHG!!

Did I ever mention that I don't like "unit" studies? It is just a strange quirk I have. When I first started homeschooling unit studies and Konos were all the rage. I kept trying to do them and we did do a couple of neat unit studies mostly consisting of reading books not making ear canals out of chairs. We did one on the Civil War and one on Lewis and Clark. I had a couple of friends who could beat the life out of a topic and it was impressive. I just never could manage it.

Once I went to a friend's house the day they were learning about the letter P. They were making popcorn and eating peanuts and pickles. I am such a minimalist. I just look at my child and say, "This is P. Remember it or else."

Have you ever wondered what would happen to a child if you didn't teach him his colors or what animals say? Nothing. They will somehow figure out orange is orange by the time they are 6 and mysteriously be able to tell you a lamb says baa. If you put something off too long, like learning to tie shoes, and your child doesn't figure it out, you can always spend a couple of seconds teaching them when they are 6. It will literally take you seconds to teach a child something at 6 that would have taken you days and days at 3 or 4. This principle does not apply to reading to children. Read to them day and night or have an older child do it.

When we were memorizing Paul Revere's Ride my friend's children were running around their neighborhood during the day yelling, "The British are coming." My husband said that would annoy the neighbors. My guess is that my kids and hers both remember the American Revolution or perhaps they have all forgotten it by now. Her kids are married. There are some days I rue ever learning PRR. To this day it will start up in my head like an old love song. I am a little concermed about Horatius at the Bridge but I feel a moral obligation to memorize any poem Ralph Moody's mother knew.

It was a happy day for me when I read Charlotte Mason tweaking the American propensity for unit studies. Half the fun of learning, if not all of it, is making connections. So one day I decided to quit trying to do unit studies and I have never looked back. It has not been a stumbling block at all for my children to hear or read American History, British History and Ancient History all in the same year. I am still not convinced chronological history study is best, although I don't think it hurts, either.

So if you come to our house you won't find me dressed up as Pochahantas, although you might find the kids out back pretending to be John Smith without any help from me at all.

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