In this post I said that as a home educator I hope you are always evaluating what works. To me this is one of the best things about what we do. We are free to try new things and evaluate what works–and what doesn’t. For us a struggle has been the whole idea of separate subjects. I understand that the BPA philosophy keeps the subjects separate so they retain their distinctiveness. They have a reason for the traditional “school” model and I have no problem with that, in general. However it has not ever worked so great in my home. (see Dee’s post on BPA unit studies)
So I was at my local used homeschool bookstore the other day when I came across a book that describes how to create your own unit studies. A bell went off. I have wanted to do unit studies since my oldest was in K (we even used FIAR before moving to BPA). My heart leapt. Could I really do unit studies with BPA? I never really thought I could, so I kept on with what I knew. It was great and things were pretty good, but something was missing.
Now that I have added my 5dd, I really want our lessons to be interesting and educational and engaging. I want them both (and my ds as well) to love learning. (see this post) The best times we have had were little types of unit studies, with Benjamin West and other topics that I sort of tied together.
But the rest of the time has been “regular”. It was not making me happy as a teacher. I do not want to focus on academics per se, but on the rudiments, the first things to know. What we have been doing is not really engaging, at least for us. Everything is disjointed and unrelated. So I took the unit study book home and looked at it. I was so glad I did!
As I read through it a light bulb came on, I realized that BPA and unit studies are very compatible. Here are some reasons why:
- unity with diversity: subjects flow together naturally, nurturing a love of learning, but still distinctive.
- As the child grows, they are able to see the 4-R’s process more clearly, so they are able to move to independent study naturally.
- You are able to relate a principle to the whole topic, as well as to individual subject, so it will flow well.
- It is easy to include multiple grades and tailor learning to each individual’s level.
- It provides opportunity for family to learn together, strengthening relationships and providing an environment for each person to learn from one another.
Personally, I believe that this method is more like real life. They can master the subjects as they relate to one another, as opposed to disconnected “boxes” of subjects.
These were my two dreams in educating my children: BPA and to use unit studies to do that. Now I can do both. Praise to God for the journey I am on. Each step I have taken has led me to the next. I don’t regret anything I have done to this point because each was a necessary step to get me here.
In my next post I will go into detail about our first unit study, which may surprise you!