A child may not know what he needs to know in ten years, but he knows better than anyone else what he wants to know right now, what his mind is ready and hungry for. If we help him to learn that, he will remember it, use it, build on it. If we try to make him learn something else we think is more important, chances are he won't learn it. He will soon forget most of what he learned, and what is worst of all, will before long lose most of his appetite for learning anything. -John Holt, “Teach Your Own”
Homeschool families know better than anyone: learning is deeper and more meaningful when learners can follow their interests. You’ve probably seen this firsthand—maybe your child taught themself to use complicated editing software because they wanted to make YouTube videos, or memorized every fact about Ancient Egypt but can’t seem to remember the biology facts you’re trying to teach them.
The unit study approach is one of the most research-backed homeschool methods precisely because it allows for interest-driven learning. Learning science has proven that when curiosity about a topic is activated, the brain is primed to absorb and retain more information. Unit studies are also a form of interdisciplinary learning, a cutting-edge method designed to build real-world skills like creativity, critical thinking, and communication.
At Prisma, our team of project-based learning experts designs thematic units for grade levels 4-12. In this blog post, you’ll find best practices for creating your own unit studies, free unit study ideas from our most popular themes, and a printable unit study planner to bring your homeschool curriculum to the next level.
The real world is not divided into school subjects. Solving hard problems requires a blend of knowledge and skills from various disciplines.
Interdisciplinary education integrates knowledge and skills from different disciplines into one learning experience. Unit studies are an interdisciplinary approach to homeschooling, where learning is organized into units combining academic subjects under one theme.
For example, in our “Cities of the Future” theme, middle school learners explored the real-world topic of urban development through hands-on learning activities. By creating everything from model cities, eco-friendly buildings, and public art, kids learned concepts traditionally taught in science, social studies, math, and English.
Why is the unit study approach such an effective homeschooling style for kids? Here are a few reasons:
At Prisma, our team of learning designers uses our collective expertise across subjects to map out a full year of interdisciplinary units. But with a bit of planning, this process can be done at home!
Here’s the steps to try your hand at creating your own unit study:
Need examples of different topics? Here are some of our past themes:
We are thrilled to announce that Prisma has earned accreditation from the Cognia Global Education Commission.
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