My oldest son has always been fascinated by animals and the natural world. His interests aren’t your typical run-of-the-mill animals and insects. Oh, no. He goes for the more obscure. Cuttlefish. Ring-tailed lemurs. Crayfish. Bushbabies. Caddisflies. Phyllobates terribilis. Pronghorns. You get the idea.
When he was six-years-old, he was obsessed with the Humboldt squid. He talked about it all the time and often pretended to be a Humboldt squid. (This phase was hilarious, you guys!)
I’ll never forget the time I created a Humboldt squid unit study for him. I kid you not! I found books featuring squid, documentaries that talked about Humboldt squids, a video of a squid dissection… and I even had a craft project!
Once I’d finally found all the books and documentaries and created the craft, I discovered that he’d moved on. In one fell swoop, he went from being obsessed with the Humboldt squid to losing himself- for many, many months- in the world of Greek mythology.
Has this happened to you, too?
As a mom and educator, I know the importance of following a child’s lead. Children learn so much when we follow their interests! A wonderful way to embrace rabbit holes and follow your child’s lead is through unit studies.
Unit studies have many advantages including:
- The opportunity to cover multiple academic and nonacademic subject areas.
- Appropriate for use with multiple ages.
- Reader and non-readers can enjoy a unit study together.
- They help to create a family atmosphere of joyful curiosity and lifelong learning.
- The ability to document delight-driven learning for required year-end homeschool evaluations.
- The ability to follow a child’s lead and study an area of interest.
Traditional unit studies are fantastic, but they can be time-consuming to plan, prepare, and execute. At times, these traditional unit studies can also be costly… especially if you have multiple children and/or your child loses interest halfway through.
Plus, when your kiddo is obsessed with random animals, it is impossible to find a unit study on that topic of interest!
Children are amazingly curious little people. They have unique and varied interests and these interests can sometimes change by the day! They can be hard to keep up with at times. If I had to create a unit study for every interest my children have had, I’d be pulling my hair out!
And that’s why I’ve learned to embrace the Lazy Unit Study. And when I say “lazy,” what I mean is simple.
Lazy Unit Studies have all the advantages of traditional unit studies but without the overwhelm. With a Lazy Unit Study, you can focus on a child’s current area of passion without the hours and hours of planning and prep. The result? More joy for everyone involved!
Lazy Unit Studies are super-simple. You start with the easiest thing and then layer on the learning until your children are ready to move on to the next area of interest. Best part? You can learn alongside your children and create memories together!
When you embrace rabbit holes and surrender to delight-driven learning together, you are teaching your children how to be lifelong, joyful learners.
And, because your children are interested in the topic, they are more likely to retain the information and experiences from these Lazy Unit Studies.
When I create a Lazy Unit Study, I first identify an area of current interest. Next, I take a moment to brainstorm and plan a little bit. I gather books on this topic and read aloud.
If kids are still interested, I sprinkle in some strewing. Then, I add in some audiovisuals, experiential learning, and games. We may create a project together or go on a field trip. I keep adding layers and layers until we have had our fill and then we move on to our next area of interest.
If you’d like to see an example of what a Lazy Unit Study looks like in our home, you can check out this article I wrote about our super-simple science Lazy Unit Study. It’s a perfect example of a recent Lazy Unit Study.
Lazy Unit Studies have become a huge passion of mine. I’ve talked about them on Instagram for years, I’ve mentioned them in podcast episodes, I did a talk about them for our first-ever Kindred Collective conference, and I’ve even written an ebook about them!
I am passionate about Lazy Unit Studies because I honestly believe homeschooling can be almost all fun and games.
Is every day perfect over here? Far from it! Still, I wouldn’t change this journey for the world. Most days, I can’t believe that I get to read amazing books, play fantastic games, and dive down rabbit holes with my children.
I think, as homeschool mamas, we tend to overthink everything. We let that Ghost of Public School Past whisper worries into our ears. We spend so much time planning, preparing, executing, and cleaning up that we barely have a moment to breathe… let alone enjoy ourselves!
Sometimes, as a homeschool mama, it can be hard to sit back and let learning happen. We want to cross off the to-do list and finish that textbook before month’s end.
The thing is, children don’t follow to-do lists and timelines. They learn at their own unique pace.
Why not embrace it and have fun along the way?
But, let’s be honest: Sometimes, homeschooling is not all fun and games…
Sometimes, for whatever reason, you find yourself deep in the trenches. Maybe you’ve just moved. Perhaps you’ve experienced a recent loss. Or, maybe your homeschool is struggling with something else.
And that’s where we are at right now.
I’ve mentioned before that one of my kiddos struggles with anxiety. Well, we are deep in the throes again. It started in January and it’s been relentless. I wanted to write about it here, but we are still muddling through the muck.
We’ve set most of our homeschool “must dos” aside to focus on what matters most. I find myself, once again, thankful for the flexibility that homeschooling offers. I can slow down- or stop entirely- so that we can focus on these important matters. There is no falling behind or catching up.
When we’ve found our footing, we’ll simply start back up and carry on. Like we always do.
In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying Lazy Unit Studies. We’ve jumped down several rabbit holes of late: crayfish, eastern newts, beavers, cryptids, cartography. We might be deep in the trenches, but the kids are learning.
Sometimes it helps to remember that children are really good at this learning thing. It’s the adults who tend to get in the way.
If you’d like to learn more about how to identify your child’s passions, brainstorm and plan super-simple Lazy Unit Studies, layer on creative resources, and document the process for those looming year-end evaluations, you can learn more in my Lazy Unit Study 101 book.
This book was a labor of love and features real-life examples of Lazy Unit Studies, 12 printables, and countless free and affordable resources.
I want every homeschool mom to have more joy and less overwhelm and I believe Lazy Unit Studies can help make homeschool life easier, and sweeter!
Tell us: What Lazy Unit Studies have you enjoyed lately? Share here so that we can all learn from each other!
If you enjoyed this post, check out Jamie’s upcoming book, Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy. Preorder it before May 7th and receive four bonuses worth $75!