Unit Study Conversation, Cont.

But really, don’t you think they learn more with projects?
No, I really don’t.  They may remember the projects with great joy, and for that reason, if you like them and the kids like them, and you want to do them, go ahead. But my experience has been that the projects don’t really help the children remember (or even make) connections with their learning.
So what do we do? Read a section ask for a short narration if your child is old enough. That seems too simple and easy. It’s so simple, that I suspect many of us subconsciously feel that we’re cheating, but it’s really a very meaty, idea-filled study.
Sometimes we add so many extra, unrelated projects- and it’s a bit like adding a bicycle wheel to your 8 cylinder Corvette- quite superfluous, and a rather clunky detraction. In the year or two before switching completely to CM I went to a lot of work planning our studies so that everything coincided. I did this to avoid confusion (mixing up learning from one subject with another) and because I thought the children needed me to put together these ‘units’ so that they would connect their subjects together better.  And, to be honest, because it seemed fun to make a unit study on attentitiveness out of learning about the human eye.
CM said that children make their own connections and form their own relationships- and she was right! They do! They are not as easily confused as I imagined (especially when you follow CM’s advice to break up similar subjects with very dissimilar activities and use a century book or timeline and a map).
I am continuously astonished by the connections between one topic and another that we discover, connections that I never would have thought have making . And, to be honest, sometimes I am dismayed by the connections they do not make- however the latter does not happen nearly as frequently as the former. Fortunately, with a Charlotte Mason education the teacher is there to gently suggest those connections, point out relationships when the children miss them. But they have the first opportunity at the joy of discovery.
The connections we discover in our readings that follow a chronological framework just tend to make a lot more sense and be less forced than they were when we did unit studies.
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