As a follower of the Charlotte Mason method of education, I have learned to be wary of unit studies. Let’s say I do a unit study on the Vikings. Somehow I bend all our school subjects (history, literature, math, Bible, geography, science, copywork, etc.) around the study of the Vikings. It sounds attractive at the beginning. But is it attractive to a child who must spend the entire school day (for who knows how many weeks?) beating around the Viking bush? Charlotte Mason warns us that they will probably grow to dislike the Vikings very much, and the goal is to bring children toward a love of education.
It is nearing the end of the school year for us, and I am struggling (right along with my first-grader) to be motivated about these last weeks. So I bought a curriculum that was on sale: Rain Nature Study. It could be a unit study. It could be anything, really. It is an ebook full of ideas on how to study rain with your children. We could go out and measure puddles for math class, read the suggested literature, learn the science behind the water cycle, take a rainy walk for nature study, paint a rainy watercolor picture, and the list goes on. We could spend our entire school time doing rain-related projects. I haven’t gone to that extreme yet, and I doubt that I will. However, all four of us are loving our rain unit. I didn’t expect that, and I’m a little surprised. After all, unit studies are not Charlotte Mason approved. I think the key is to not force it. I slowly pulled us into this unit study, and this week we are doing more than usual (it helps that it has rained a bit this week). Now it is something to look forward to. We are loving education, not hating it. I think I will try more unit studies in the future; I just won’t get obsessed with it.