Quarantine Homeschool Tip #3: Go Deep. Not Wide.

Pick ONE TOPIC and spend the whole week studying as much as you possibly can about it.

Most of us retain learning by diving deep into a topic and spending time with it. We don’t absorb the “scope and sequence” or the breadth of a subject over a LONG period. It’s too much. (All of World History anyone??)

I had an excellent public education and was a highly motivated student, but I can’t tell you much about the day to day learning I had. I remember a big senior project on the jury system. I created my own guidebook to all the kinds of trees in my town in 8th grade. I still remember my water cycle science fair project from elementary school. I can still recite the prologue to the Canterbury Tales that I had to memorize. Places where my teachers enabled us to linger and go deep are the things that I retained and enjoyed. (Sorry math, I only liked how you helped me in Physics, so that’s all I’ve got.)

While traditional classroom education must, out of necessity, have breadth of scope and sequence to accommodate many different students, homeschool gives us the luxury to truly individualize learning.  Now is a chance to DEEPLY explore what our students care about and will retain in the long run. Thank goodness, there is no test. This is now a QUALITY over QUANTITY learning experience. HOORAY!

  • Find what your students are interested in and GO DEEP into that.
  • Don’t worry about what you aren’t covering. Nope. Stop. I said don’t worry. DO. NOT. WORRY. Covering everything isn’t a thing. There is no scenario for “covering everything” or even coming close to it. Just throw that one RIGHT away.
  • Try to include as many disciplines as you can into your one topic, but see above. DO NOT WORRY. (At least for this week.)
  • Focus on these three stages of learning during the week.
    • Explore–Read, research, watch. (Surface absorption.)
    • Digest–Interact with the topic. Basically retell, write, cook, collect, draw, list, practice, sing, dance, experience. (Deeper dive)
    • Produce–Recreate their learning in some kind of project, presentation, paper, test or retelling. (Demonstrate retention of knowledge in a way they will enjoy.)

This approach (called “Unit Study” in the homeschool world) is awesome for people with various age groups in the same home.

I’ll give you one example.

My daughter studied the Middle East. There are ENDLESS avenues of geography, history, religion, culture, mathematics, geology, science, literature, etc that we could have approached. We did a TINY few of those, but she picked ONE area in which to dive deep into and created a project on Middle Eastern Women’s fashion. She may not remember much of anything else about the Middle East, but her deep dive into this project will likely stick with her in understanding some of history, culture, and religion of this region.

I hope these tips are helpful. Please feel free to share with friends and ask any questions that you might have. I’ll try to post a new small tip every few days or so.