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Many educators define curriculum as a set of courses or plan of study. This can be offered through a school or homeschooling setting. Defined as a long-term activity within instructional context, a curriculum unit generally takes the form of a unit study.
Unit studies typically revolve around a central theme. Lessons and activities are structured to fit this theme. Curriculum units are thought to benefit children through memory retention. Most children are able to retain more information from a unit study than from books or lessons alone.
Curriculum unit studies are commonly used in homeschooling. This type of curriculum offers many benefits to homeschooling families. Unit studies are an inexpensive alternative for parents choosing to create their own curriculum. They provide flexibility and can be designed to fit individual learning styles. This is important for children to be able to fully comprehend the learning concepts being presented.
A curriculum unit can be structured to suit each child’s developmental needs. This is especially useful when teaching multiple grade levels or children with special needs. Many parents also find it easier to teach children using curriculum units as opposed to more traditional methods. There are several ways to teach unit studies, making them adaptable to various teaching styles as well. In fact, a curriculum unit can be structured to allow both the students and teachers to study or focus on the most important topics and skills in greater depth.
This type of curriculum is usually designed to last anywhere from three to six months, depending on individual needs. In addition to gathering relevant materials such as books, lessons, and other resources, much of the learning is accomplished through hands-on activities. All resources and activities are structured to meet specific educational guidelines. They may also include a schedule or timeline to follow.
One of the greatest advantages of a curriculum unit, with regards to flexibility is the fact that in addition to teaching multiple grade levels, multiple subjects can be integrated as well. For example, the unit study might center around a garden theme. This curriculum unit could easily be designed to include many subjects, from history to science.
In addition to gaining hands-on learning through growing one’s own garden, a garden-themed curriculum unit might include multiple science projects and the study of plants. Graphing plant growth or calculating planting depths and germination can be a fun way to squeeze in some math. Keeping a journal is a great way to explore reading and writing concepts.
Unit studies can be purchased as an entire package or individually designed to meet the needs of families. To get the most from whichever curriculum unit chosen, it’s always a good idea to research all options. This will help determine the most efficient curriculum that will meet your educational needs, whether in a school or homeschooling setting.