When I first started doing unit studies, I thought the best way was to make the units myself. Of course, our budget also insisted that I do as much as I could for free. With only a couple children I even had a bit of time available for creating units.
Fast forward to today. I have a houseful of children needing my time, as well as other responsibilities. My ability to pull together a unit has grown, making the process quicker. I have also learned to put aside money each year for homeschool, giving me the option to buy some things. I try to spend that money to maximize the time I will gain from it.
I have come to understand something as I have been homeschooling longer and with more and more children in the house.
Time = Money
That applies to homeschool in a very real way, especially to unit study preparation. When I am planning a unit study I have many options.
The first, most basic option, is to create the unit from scratch. I plan what we will study, I gather all books, create all lapbook pieces, and come up with everything. This costs me a lot on the time end of the spectrum, but can be light on the money end if I utilize the library, create things myself, and find free resources. Sometimes the budget demands I create a unit because there simply is not any money to spend.
Next in the option lineup is to find someone who has done part of the work for me. I may create a few things and gather some books, but I use a lapbook someone else made, or plans for a unit study on a particular book. This costs me less on the time side of the equation but usually increases the money I spend for these ‘helps’ a bit.
The third option is to spend money for someone else to do the preparation work for me. This drastically reduces my time spent planning and preparing a unit for my family. The best scenario is that my purchase is virtually open and go – ready for me to use when I get it. This saves me a lot of time, but the money side of the equation is at it’s highest point usually.
Before you make any judgment calls on which option is best, let me give you something to think about:
My time is worth some money!
So while I can create a completely free unit on bananas, I need to decide if I should. It could take me hours of time to track down books, research information, create each lapbook piece, plan some activities, crafts, experiments,and find ways to accommodate the wide range of age and abilities in my home. All of that takes time, from several hours to several days, and I have not even begun teaching the children yet!
Which unit study option to choose is not an either/or decision. In reality all three options are valid choices, and my choices may vary from week to week and unit to unit. Sometimes I have plenty of time to research and create a unit specific to our family’s interests. Or there simply is not an option to buy a unit on the topic we want to study. Sometimes to determining factor is money. If I do not have money to spend, I must either create the unit or choose something else.
I have finally come to accept that paying someone else to create the unit for me is okay too! Being a good steward of my time and my money means that using each of the 3 options will sometimes be the right answer. It has been so freeing to realize I do not always need to reinvent the
Now part of my being a good steward is to decide which unit study option is right for each unit. If I decide to spend money to purchase a unit I look for the best investment of my money. If creating the unit myself is called for, I manage my time and work effectively at my research and preparation.