I would like to use unit studies for our homeschooling, but I’ve heard they will leave gaps in my child’s education, as opposed to using a “full” curriculum. Is that true?
While it is true that unit studies will leave gaps in your child’s education, it is not true that using a “full” curriculum will not do the same. If you think about it, an educational gap is a hole where something was either left unlearned or untaught or both. No matter what curriculum you use, they will all leave gaps, as there is no curriculum that covers every single topic about every single subject that there is to learn. For that matter, even if every single child in the nation is taught using the same curriculum, every one of those children will have had gaps in their education between what they were taught and/or learned and what they could have potentially been taught/learned. Even proponents of the controversial Common Core Standards (CCS) acknowledge this.
While one of the objectives of the CCS developers was to establish an educational system that eliminates as much educational discrepancy as possible from one school/region/state to another, it was never the intent of the Common Core to be an educational system that avoids gaps (as stated, gaps are inevitable). Likewise, it is not the intent of the developers of any “full” curriculum (regardless of whether or not it was designed to adhere to the CCS) to design a curriculum that avoids educational gaps. The same is also true of unit study designers. Instead of trying to avoid gaps, they each hope their system of education lays a proper foundation that (at least) sufficiently and (at its best) excellently covers what they have determined to be the core essential elements of education.
So, rather than ask the question of whether or not unit studies leave gaps, there is a more important question to ask when determining if unit studies are right for your homeschool. That is, what do you believe are the core essential elements of your child’s education, and can unit studies help you teach those core elements?
For me, as a Christian educator, I have one main core essential element that helps me determine whether or not I use a particular unit study, or any curricular product for that matter. That is, does it teach, or at least not contradict the teaching of, a Biblical worldview? I ask this question because my ultimate goal in educating my children at home is that God be glorified.
By starting with this as my educational foundation, everything else (including a concern about leaving gaps) is secondary at best.