Planning a unit study can be overwhelming work. There are so many things to consider, so many subjects to cover. As I plan our 2015-2016 school year, I’d like to take you along for the ride. If you are a homeschooling parent who plans your children’s curriculum, following my journey may give you some ideas how to approach your own planning. If you purchase curriculum, maybe I can give you some good ways to supplement them.
I’ve mentioned before that we are doing the entire school year in unit studies based on Asia, Africa, and Oceania. The subjects I’m trying to include are geography, history (including garden and art history), art, science (animal and earth), reading, and writing.
When I first started researching China for lessons, the sheer amount of information bogged me down. China has a thousands-year history compared to the paltry 200 of the United States. There is so much to choose from in every area. My enthusiasm petered out as I realized I might never be able to winnow it all down to a week’s worth of lessons.
That is, until I had my Bright Idea.
I’ve written so many research papers in my life I could almost make an income selling them. I love research papers. I love the investigation that comes with preparing to write them. I get excited about learning a subject so well I can write a paper explaining it to others. I had certain rituals I followed in high school and college that kept me on track and focused. Utilizing those well-honed tools, I had soon gathered enough information in such an organized manner that I could make it into an interesting introduction into the subject. What Fun!
So yesterday, as my mind boggled at the influx of all that is Chinese, I realized that I could better organize it in my head if I treat it like a research paper. So I got out a notebook. And I started taking notes, just like I did in school. And the next thing I knew, I was ready to put those notes to the purpose of deciding what to include in the lesson plan and when.
If you are planning any lessons for next year and finding yourself bogged down, don’t despair. Get out a notebook. Take notes instead of just bookmarking or copy-pasting. Write down the important aspects of whatever you’re reading. You can go back and do full research later if you have to, but right now just write in your notebook the main point of each article or book you’re looking through. Suddenly, I promise, it will start to coalesce in your head. You can get it organized into main points, and then go back and flesh it out after your brain stops whirling.
I hope it works for you as well as it did for me! Let me know what you think.