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    Unit Studies took over My MP!

    Would greatly appreciate encouragement or reminders why MP is awesome...
    I love MP and we completed all of 2nd grade. I’ve made new friends this year who do unit studies and it looked so fun, colorful and new, that I started doing them while trying to keep up with our 3rd grade MP curriculum. Namely, Magic Tree House, Moving Beyond the Page and American Girl studies. It became too much and I started to slow down with MP. It’s been weeks since I’ve looked at my MP guide and I miss it so much! Though, my daughter loves the hands-on activities and varying topics that the unit studies bring. I need advice that only MP fans can provide! Also, I’d love honest opinions regarding unit studies. TIA! 🙏💛
    Rose
    DD1 - 15 (Great Books)
    DD2 - 9 (MP 3A)
    DS - 2 (wild + free)

    #2
    Unit Studies can be fun, but boy are they hard on mama! So much planning. So many books to research and find. Find a fun craft. Let's do some cooking. And always remember to make this child-centered! Oh boy....you lost me.

    Who wouldn't want to learn about only things that interested them? And someone else, mama, does all of the planning and prep. All the child does is show up and enjoy. And when their interest wanes, it's on to the next whim. And so goes the cycle.

    The challenge for me with unit studies (and beauty of MP) is the continuity. The order. The predictability. Oh, and the beautiful schedule! Each day, each course takes roughly the same length of time. There's no surprise 2 hour cooking project with missing ingredients. And it all builds on each other, each year, each course. My child knows the expectations. My third grader is not entirely dependent on me to be the educational ring-master at our circus. She can do math, spelling, and flashcard review all independently.

    And there's something healthy about doing hard things. And learning things that you're not in love with. That's life folks...doing hard things that you don't really love. Do I love doing laundry? Nope. But, it has to get done. Sometimes, you just have to buckle down and do things. Period. Or people run naked and the neighbors start to stare and whisper. Just saying.

    If you like the idea of unit studies, just incorporate some more fun projects into MP. Expand on Farmer Boy. Do some online research on the homestead. They have video tours of the place. Make some apples and onions (Almanzo's favorite dish) or how about some rye n injun bread? Visit a petting zoo. How about a good old campfire with smores and talk about what it would be like to cook all of your meals over a fire?

    I tried to get my kids to stack four cords of firewood for the winter (we heat our house with a wood stove). Remember Almanzo hauling wood from the timber lot? They saw right through that "educational" opportunity. Come on, that's hands-on learning at it's finest! But, alas, they still did it because sometimes we all just have to buckle down and do hard things that we don't really feel like doing. (And we all like a nice warm house).
    Last edited by Colomama; 12-10-2019, 12:27 AM.
    Married to DH for 14 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS11- Simply Classical 5/6
    DD9- Simply Classical 5/6 (neurotypical, but schooling with big brother to save mom's sanity)
    DD 6- Classic Core First Grade

    We've completed:
    Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
    Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

    Comment


      #3
      Colomama, I so appreciate the time you took to compose this reply. You make so many excellent points! I love MP, and just need to figure a way to add some fun. My daughter wasn’t complaining about anything, so why did I need to try the shiny new curriculum? I know we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to other homeschools, but I totally do! One of my friends takes at least 1-2 field trips a week, unit studies galore, all the recipes and hands on activities you can imagine...and it all looks like learning to me. It made me feel like I wasn’t taking advantage of being a homeschooler, like we were just doing regular school at home. I don’t know what is wrong with that either, but I felt insecure. Thankful for mamas like you.
      Rose
      DD1 - 15 (Great Books)
      DD2 - 9 (MP 3A)
      DS - 2 (wild + free)

      Comment


        #4
        We add those things to our week as incentive to get the basics done well. And truthfully, isn't it easier to do all of that fun stuff when the child actually understands what she's doing? I cooked and baked with my daughter myriad times, but it wasn't until R&S math that she could read fractions with mixed numbers to figure out how to read 1 1/2 tsp or double a recipe by multiplying everything by 2. Prior to that, it was like it was the first time seeing it every time. Now that we've been intentional about drilling a set of useful facts and basics, it has opened up a whole world of interests that she pursues in her own time and the 3 months of summer. Had we not tackled biographies and historical fiction in MP3, my eldest might still be reading bubble gum novels on a 2nd-grade reading level. I could push those things on her, but I know that *my* kids only do hard stuff when their feet are held to the fire. I love hearing my eldest go from "I hate math" to "give me more math sheets like that!" I also love explaining that when she says she hates grammar or Latin, that we need to review more, because when we kept on top of it, it used to be her favorite subject.

        Don't be afraid to figure out the sweet spot of things that can wait til the next week so you can throw in a baking day, go to an art museum, or hit up the zoo. In 3A, I frequently throw in a tying up loose ends week where we review flashcards from the beginning, make sure all the questions on coming tests are answered in complete sentences so she can use it as a study guide, get to those pesky Enrichment activities like copying dialogue completed, etc. This enables us to live a life worth living. No time has MP constrained our journey. It has been a beautiful springboard! We are the traveling family who drove 3 days to get to Malone, NY to see the Farmer Boy Wilder Family Homestead! We regularly take 4-day trips to the mountains to hike, camp, and soak up all the natural things my kids can now identify thanks to MP 1, 2, and 3!

        In fact, I've been meaning to post a template for a massive gingerbread boy we baked (ala the MP Jr. K book). Incorporating those things aren't necessary, but for my family, it's good gravy!
        Mama to 2

        Summer:
        MPK with SC1 Phonics & Math
        SY 20/21
        4A

        Comment


          #5
          Well, I've never exactly used unit studies, but probably have tried every other kind of education out there, lol. I am a former teacher and when I first started homeschooling about 7 years ago, I thought I'd create the cutest little homeschool room ever. Except...it didn't work out. My kids hated being in the super cute room (God bless my husband for painting, building a table and hanging up tons of cute posters)....and then the 1 year old started standing up and that was the end of that. All of this to say, sometimes what you think is going to work-doesn't. I also started with Charlotte Mason/Montessori...slowly switched to more traditional, and then found MP last year. The unit study thing definitely spoke to me. It looks so...fun, right? But for me, fun wasn't getting done. I had high hopes of tying all of the subjects together with these cute themes, and really really tried to be that "hands on" mom. It didn't get done. I still have cupboards full of art supplies that have never been used and project ideas that have never been attempted. Unfortunately, having 5 kids in 6.5 years did not allow me to be that mom (with a caboose coming later on).

          MP has been a real blessing to me because it's GETTING DONE. I now know that no matter what plans I have or how shiny the curriculum is, it just doesn't matter if it doesn't get done. I also know that I'm a bit of a check the box kind of person and so I needed that to know that I was doing enough. I am a second guesser. I did it 7 years ago and I do it now. But, I do it a lot less now with MP. I am not a manual checker-for the life of me I cannot figure out how to use a 5 day a week schedule and stick with it. But, I saw a genius post last year about printing out the individual lesson plans and then creating my own planner for my kids-and it's working beautifully here. So, my point being (and sorry, I have dinnertime chaos with 7 people around me as I type this!) you don't necessarily have to follow the plan exactly. Use the guide as a general idea of where your kids should be, but feel totally free to add in whatever you want! Maybe that's a cute Christmas project, or cooking, or a nature walk, or a field trip-whatever you think is missing from the MP guides. But to me, it's the best of both worlds because you get everything laid out but it doesn't mean you can't add some things in. Give yourself permission to stray, to do the things that will float your kids' boat.

          My general philosophy is usually-work is work and play is play. So we are pretty intense during school hours and get stuff done. Then, when school is over-that's when we bake, do crafts, playdoh or whatever they want to do. And my kids are happy to get their work done so they can go do what they want. All of this to say, I found MP and I am home. It's not perfect, but nothing is. I feel a sense of peace about what we're doing and how my kids are learning. It's beautiful, and it's getting done. Good luck!

          Comment


            #6
            My take on unit studies and why they bother me is they do not have a logical progression of skills. If you can pick and choose, how do you ever build solid skills? It is impossible without a laid out progression of materials. I think to make unit studies not be that way requires a Herculean effort on the Mom's part. Quite frankly, I have tried them and that is exactly what happened. Even my kids asked to go back to 'real' school materials after just a week.

            I also have kids who want school to be school and fun to be fun and never shall the twain meet.

            MP gives the path. How we choose to navigate it is up to us. I love knowing I have the freedom to hit what I need to hard and to add whatever extra afterschool fun we want. Brick and mortar schools do this with clubs and the like, so can we.
            The Homeschool Grads:
            J- 6/96
            S- 11/98

            Still Homeschooling:
            G- 4/04
            D- 5/05
            F- 7/08 (my only girl)

            Future Homeschooler:
            M- 9/16

            Comment


              #7
              All of your replies are incredibly helpful and though provoking. I’m going back to MP! You’ve helped me articulate my gut feeling, while remembering why I chose MP in the first place. I agree with many of your sentiments, especially that unit studies lack the depth that classical provides. Plus, my daughter loves MP! While discussing it with her this morning, she revealed she has been missing it too! All the busy work of unit studies wasn’t as appealing to her as feeling confident about her learning-she loves recitation and oral comprehension questions. We went back on track today and it felt so good! We’ll try unit studies over summer...maybe. I appreciate you all!
              Rose
              DD1 - 15 (Great Books)
              DD2 - 9 (MP 3A)
              DS - 2 (wild + free)

              Comment


                #8


                I think you could answer your question about “why did I need shiny new curriculum” by “I made some new friends” in your original post. For some people that can be a huge deal. I have almost no one near me to just hang with after school so I could see the allure of mixing up school for the ability to do something with other people. I know the bit about socialization gets knocked a lot (even by me), but many of us do crave a friend.

                Unit studies are great...kids do learn a lot, especially if you do academics along with them. However, they are tons of work for you. I don’t consider myself low energy, but I don’t have the time or patience to do them all the time. Two field trips a week would drive me batty, but some people need to get out of the house. Comparing yourself to others isn’t the goal. You can’t be your friend or any other person you find online or in person, but it is so easy to compare ourselves and most of us are insecure in some way when it comes to homeschooling. One thing to consider is the age of the children. My style was very different when my oldest was in 2nd grade and I had one in K, and a 2 year old. We went place and did things that are impossible when the age span is four kids with the youngest is in 1st/2nd and the oldest is is a junior in high school. Things like Algebra have to get done and the time to coordinate that for several kids takes away from being able to be out of the house all the time. Homeschool looks very, very different for my youngest than my oldest. Throw in extracurricular activities and my youngest doesn’t remember going to the zoo.

                I think my point is not to feel bad about your decisions. I don’t do complete cores and we complete quite a bit orally. You really can read Greek Myths out loud and do puzzles and games to learn the states and capitals. Some subjects lend themselves better to creative methods than others. Get the basics down....math and Latin and some writing and enjoy your kids being little. They grow up too fast. There is a lot of material in the cores and not all of it is of equal priority in my mind. Keep the cumulative subjects up and the rest will be there to complete with study guides and tests when you are ready for it. Just make sure that if you love MP that you stray for reasons that fill a need or a conscious want in your life, not because someone else is doing it.
                Dorinda

                For 2019-2020
                DD 16 - 11th with MPOA(AP Latin), Lukeion (Greek4 & Adv. NT Greek), Thinkwell (Economics and Chemistry), plus Pre-Calculus, American G’ment, Early Church History set, and British Lit
                DS 14 - 8th with MPOA(Fourth Form), CLRC(Intro Lit and Comp), plus Algebra, Field Biology, Classical Studies 1
                DS 11 - 6th with Right Start Level G online class
                DS 6 - 1st with Prima Latina

                Comment


                  #9
                  Dorinda-yes. Just yes. That's all.
                  Festina lentē,
                  Jessica P

                  2020-2021
                  11th year HSing · 9th year MP
                  @ Home, HLN, & Latin online
                  11th, 9th, 6th, 3rd

                  Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Every time I try a different curriculum (once a year), I come back to MP. We are then "behind" with MP. Therefore, we do school year-round now. If you follow the MP lesson plans there is no reason that you could not do school year round (people work year-round, right? so why not teach that early). If you are getting tired take a week off and do a unit study. Have fun with one that is well-planned so you are not having to re-invent the wheel. Then go back to MP. It is almost like a vacation week for the unit study week. Or do MP, but only do school 4 days a week, and go to the museums or cook the food from the unit studies. Do the fun parts. And remember that if you do four days a week of MP, but also go to the museum or the ballet or cook an historical time period meal, those hours also count as homeschool for your state hours requirement.
                    JeJe Greer
                    Mom to:
                    Stella (8M with 9th grade literature)
                    Clara (SC 5/6 and 4th new user)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I know this question has already been resolved, but I just wanted to add in my two cents as an outsider. (I use some MP materials and I generally lean classical or a tiny bit CM.) I was just listening to an old episode of the Schole Sisters podcast and they were talking about how unit studies are a beautiful education for the mother, because she's making all these connections in order to plan the unit. But the education was in those connections, and the child is NOT necessarily getting all of those meaningful connections, just because it's all been put together. And it's frequently something the kids enjoy but aren't really retaining anything from. The rule in CM circles is that the child should always be doing the intellectual heavy lifting. When the mom is working harder than the kids at schooling, something has gone wrong, because the one doing the work is getting the benefit.


                      ​​​​​​Not like you can't cook apples and onions for fun, or whatever. But that's just fun. That stuff is like the yummy dessert, not the main course. Just my two cents. I thought those ladies had made some good points.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I’m also loving the responses here! I’ve found that even if I don’t want to teach the core as written, most of the books and subjects are so good that I am motivated to get them out and help the kids dig into them more, especially starting in third grade. MP just provides a good, general guide to what’s worth spending time on. I know that even the parts I may abandon aren’t actually a “waste” of anyone’s time.
                        2019-20
                        DS--9, 3M/4M
                        DD--7, mix of 1 and 2
                        DD--5, MP K
                        DS--3
                        DS--1

                        Comment


                          #13
                          We used MP as our primary curriculum from about 3rd grade-8th grade. Anyhow I'm just popping in this thread to say that I've never owned the whole manual. Some downloadable single subject ones, sure. But mostly, we've always looked at what we needed for the year, bought it, and just done the next thing. I'm very much a box checker, but know I would rebel against the CM and be off looking for something else. And honestly, MP's materials are super easy to plan without one once you've got the rhythm.
                          Last edited by bean; 12-13-2019, 06:37 AM.
                          Bean. Long time MP user. I'm usually posting before my coffee is finished. I apologize in advance for my typos and grammatical mishaps.

                          DD- 10th- AP & dual enrollment courses for 20-21.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Emily, I'd love to know which episode that was, if you happen to remember! It makes so much sense and will help me to remember why I want my daughter to put in the work of MP, and why I feel so satisfied when we've had a full day of it. Thank you for your response!

                            Originally posted by Emily L View Post
                            I know this question has already been resolved, but I just wanted to add in my two cents as an outsider. (I use some MP materials and I generally lean classical or a tiny bit CM.) I was just listening to an old episode of the Schole Sisters podcast and they were talking about how unit studies are a beautiful education for the mother, because she's making all these connections in order to plan the unit. But the education was in those connections, and the child is NOT necessarily getting all of those meaningful connections, just because it's all been put together. And it's frequently something the kids enjoy but aren't really retaining anything from. The rule in CM circles is that the child should always be doing the intellectual heavy lifting. When the mom is working harder than the kids at schooling, something has gone wrong, because the one doing the work is getting the benefit.


                            ​​​​​​Not like you can't cook apples and onions for fun, or whatever. But that's just fun. That stuff is like the yummy dessert, not the main course. Just my two cents. I thought those ladies had made some good points.
                            Rose
                            DD1 - 15 (Great Books)
                            DD2 - 9 (MP 3A)
                            DS - 2 (wild + free)

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Agreed! Not much, but many! Multun, not multa.


                              Originally posted by Emilylovesbooks View Post
                              I’m also loving the responses here! I’ve found that even if I don’t want to teach the core as written, most of the books and subjects are so good that I am motivated to get them out and help the kids dig into them more, especially starting in third grade. MP just provides a good, general guide to what’s worth spending time on. I know that even the parts I may abandon aren’t actually a “waste” of anyone’s time.
                              Rose
                              DD1 - 15 (Great Books)
                              DD2 - 9 (MP 3A)
                              DS - 2 (wild + free)

                              Comment

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