Piedmont Home Educators Association

The Unit Study Approach

The Unit Study Approach


A unit study is taking a theme or topic (a unit of study) and delving into it deeply over a period of time, integrating language arts, science, social studies, math, and fine arts as they apply. Instead of studying eight or ten separate, unrelated subjects, all subjects are blended together and studied around a common theme or project. For example, a unit study on birds could include reading and writing about birds and famous ornithologists (language arts); studying the parts, functions, and life cycles of birds and perhaps even the aerodynamics of flight (science and math); determining the migration paths, habitats, and ecological and sociological impact of birds (social studies); sketching familiar birds (art); building bird houses or feeders (“hands on” activities); and so forth.


  • All ages of children in the family learn together

  • Intense study of one topic is natural way to learn

  • Knowledge is interrelated so it is learned easily and remembered longer

  • The family’s interest or God’s direction can be pursued


  • Planning is necessary so there are few educational gaps

  • Prepared unit study curricula are expensive

  • Do-it-yourself unit studies require parent planning

  • Some subjects are hard to integrate into the unit and may be neglected

  • May underestimate a student’s academic potential


  • How to Create Your Own Unit Study by Valerie Bendt

  • Home Schooling Today magazine

  • KONOS and Weaver Curricula