Homeschooling with unit studies is a great method to use with multiple kids and an eclectic homeschool style. Here’s my review of The Joy of Discovery with Learning Objectives for K-8 from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources. This resource is a wealth of information and provides practical ideas for homeschool moms to be able to craft customized unit studies for their kids.
I’m a former classroom teacher, so I jumped at the opportunity to review The Joy of Discovery. I learned about lesson planning for large classes back in my university days. But as a homeschooling mom of five, I wanted to see how useful this information was for a family setting.
Is it really possible to craft unit studies for your kids while making sure to hit necessary topics, skills, and milestones? Is it realistic in these days of standardized testing madness?
I’m happy to say that I was thoroughly impressed with The Joy of Discovery product from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources.
Let me tell you about it and why every homeschool mom should consider purchasing a copy.
Philosophy Behind Joy of Discovery
The irony was not lost to me that I read the entire Joy of Discovery resource while I was in my local public high school as a substitute teacher for a day. The kids in my classroom were all put in standardized slots to fit a standardized education, with no regard for their learning gaps, personal strengths or weaknesses.
So with a philosophy that encourages growing a life-long love of learning, The Joy of Discovery provides the practical how-to for parents who want this kind of educational atmosphere in their homeschool.
I have to be honest – as a former classroom teacher, I do like neat and tidy curricula. I like to know that there won’t be gaps in the instruction.
Teaching with unit studies requires a bit of faith in the process that while the topics of study may seem random because they’re delight-directed, you can still ensure that the learning objectives for each grade level are met.
That’s why this resource is so helpful. The first part explains how unit studies work and gives many examples so you can craft your own. The second part includes detailed learning objectives for each year in the K-8 sequence so you know your kids are learning what they need to at each grade level.
While unit studies could be used by a group of children, they shine most when utilized in a one-on-one environment, namely homeschool.
What makes this particular unit study approach so effective is that they rely on active student involvement. These are not unit studies with reams of fill-in-the-blank worksheets and crossword puzzles all united around a common topic.
No, these unit studies are child directed and child created. Active learning is the key to real mastery of topics and subjects!
Instead of keeping your instruction at a low level of learning (like knowledge recall), creating unit studies with this approach will help your kids reach the application stage of learning. This stage is where true learning takes place. Your kids will create projects to challenge themselves and learn the topics and skills necessary for mastery.
Parts of a Unit Study
The Joy of Discovery promotes an Individual-Inquiry-Instruction model of teaching.
The first part of homeschooling with unit studies according to this plan is considering the Individual (Your Child). You are encouraged to use passion-directed topics because it will engage and motivate your student. Plus, they will benefit from the active learning process.
It’s also important to include the Inquiry step of asking and defining questions. The Joy of Discovery takes you through the process of crafting well-defined questions to keep your student on task.
Finally, the resource takes the most time to explain the Instruction step of this unit study model. This is the part that we often think of when we hear “unit study.” But the Individual and Inquiry steps are critical for crafting a meaningful course of study for your child.
In the Instruction section of this manual, you will learn everything you need for homeschooling with unit studies:
- using the right thinking skills
- choosing the right project for this topic
- making a clear plan to accomplish your goals
- meeting learning objectives
Creating Homeschool Unit Studies
Here is what you will learn about the creating unit studies:
- decide on a topic
- define one question to pursue
- choose the thinking skill you will measure
- pick a project for your child
- make a clear plan for your child to follow
- determine learning objectives for this project
- how to evaluate the unit study
- keeping records
- how to use this method with multiple ages and levels
The Joy of Discovery makes it easy for you to implement their unit study method because they give you many examples, unit study ideas, and multiple forms to use in planning and evaluating your own.
As a part of the active-learner model endorsed in this resource, your kids will be active evaluators of their own learning process.
On the Unit Study Evaluation Form, your children will discuss their process, explain what they learned, and share if they were satisfied with the results.
Benefits of this resource
The Joy of Discovery not only provides you with the methodology and philosophy behind unit studies, but it gives you the practical steps to create your own.
Filled with reproducible planning pages and the indispensable learning objectives per grade level, you will have everything you need to create delight-directed unit studies for your homeschool.
You can use The Joy of Discovery as a complete curriculum or as a supplement. You can try it for just certain subject areas at first (science or history, for example). Use just those objectives and create some experimental unit studies for your kids while you get your feet wet.
If you’re a new homeschooler and not yet sure of your philosophy of homeschool education, this book will help. Reading through The Joy of Discovery will give you much to think about and put into practice!
The philosophy discussed in this resource does not advocate textbook-based, school-in-a-box, standardized “school at home.” Rather, it aims to show you how active learning-by-doing and developing a life-long love of learning is a better education than what our kids would receive in a traditional classroom.
We’re after progress with our kids, not perfection. And with homeschooling, we can meet our kids right where they are with individualized instruction through unit study projects!
Finally, there’s a section about scheduling if you’re concerned about how many minutes a day your children should work on these projects. They really do answer most questions you could think of. It’s also very easy to implement this learning style into your homeschool.
Recommendations for Homeschooling with Unit Studies
If I was starting over again with my four little boys and looking at K-8 with a fresh start, I would definitely use this resource as a foundational tool in our homeschool. Kids love hands-on learning experiences on topics they adore!
With my last child now approaching first grade in the fall, I’m going to use the learning objectives for science, health & safety, history & geography, and maps to create unit studies for her.
If you want to break out of the textbook-driven “school at home” homeschool style, you can! Just put this tool in your homeschool toolbox – now!
The Joy of Discovery is useful if you want complete delight-driven learning. Or, it’s also helpful as a supplement to your current homeschool plans.
Homeschool Curriculum Reviews
The Homeschool Review Crew was able to review many resources from Hewitt Homeschooling. Check them out below!