Project Based Homeschooling? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 07-30-2013, 09:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I just started reading about it after moomin mama recommended it to another poster.  I read the book "Project Based Homeschooling" by Lori Pickert and have just started diving into her blog.  I think it will help my older child extend his focus to something aside from reading.  By the end of last school year, I was feeling like I had to micromanage his schooling too intensely, and it was starting to affect our relationship negatively.  So this year, I want cut way down on the amount of time my children spend doing specific work assigned by me, and help them shift their thinking process toward what truly inspires them. 


(Thank you, by the way, Miranda, for all of your posts over the years!  You have completely changed the way I think about homeschooling and I truly appreciate the time you have taken to share so many inspired and substantive ideas.)   


Are there any project based homeschoolers around here?  What types of projects do your children take on?  What do they end up looking like?  How do you maintain a role as a project mentor but not take over the project?  How do you do project based learning with more than one child?


I tested the waters today and talked to my two older children (7 and 9) about what types of projects they might like to take on.  My oldest said he wanted to learn how to bake and decorate fancy cakes.  My younger one wanted to take on ducks.  How would I help both of them at the same time?  I was hoping to dedicate afternoons to their projects, but I'm not sure how to help in the kitchen and help on a duck project at once with a toddler stirring everything together at the same time.....How does this type of thing work in your household?

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#2 of 4 Old 07-31-2013, 09:42 PM
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I, too, recently discovered the website and bought the book. I am planning on doing it this fall. I have talked to the kids about it and they seem keen on the idea. I need to create a space in our tiny home - we are planning on building a new home soon and I have planned for a dedicated project space, so in the meantime it may be a challenge but I'm up for it!


We've been unschoolers for most of our journey, so I'm confident I can avoid trying to manage or direct their projects. The kids have worked on projects before but my lack of ability to manage my time properly meant they didn't follow through etc. They really do need a mentor to help them keep on track for their own goals, and I really need to set aside scheduled time to do so or it just doesn't happen, despite my best intentions. But because they have been unschooled for so long I'm not worried about them not being able to come up with great ideas and be self-directed. They just need a Personal Assistant. :)


I'm really excited about it and plan to blog about their projects once we get going. 

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#3 of 4 Old 07-31-2013, 10:07 PM
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Didn't answer the second part of the post...


I have always done work separately with the kids because they have pretty different interests and also they goof around too much when together. ;-)


So I would say that you should set aside project time separately for each of your older kids. For the older two, you can explain the schedule ahead of time and make sure the one not doing project time has something else they can engage in so you can focus on the other child. 


As for the toddler, a few suggestions are to time some of it with nap time, ask the kid who isn't doing project time to watch/play with the toddler (assuming they are mature enough to do so), hire a local homeschooling teen to be a "mother's helper" (a babysitter when mother is still at home but otherwise occupied), do it when your partner is home to watch the toddler, etc...I'm sure others can come up with more ideas for that.


Thanks for starting this thread, by the way. I'm looking forward to hearing about everyone's projects. My son has suggested he'd like to learn more about constellations and DD wants to explore film editing.

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#4 of 4 Old 08-01-2013, 06:58 AM
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I know I went into detail about the photography topic that my oldest investigated.  That was great.  However, we have done many other project-based learning experiences.  Most of them start with a brainstorming session with my child and me.  My middle child will tell me "mom, I want to learn about . . . " and we will sit down and brainstorm about it.  This helps me clarify just how "deep" she wants to dive, what she needs from me, and if it can be done.  Then, I do what I need to do to get it rolling.  The kids are welcome to work on them anytime (usually), but this past year I started dedicating Fridays to catch-up and projects.  

This past year my 10 year old wanted a teeter-totter.  We had her learn about how they worked, she looked up blueprints, she made a small model of one to illustrate how to balance it (heavier child moves in vs a movable board).  Finally, she built one with her dad.  I kept the other kids out of the way so that this would be K's project.  Her dad taught her to use certain tools (drill, saw) and the safety that went with them.  He helped whenever it was needed.  She understood the design well.  All the girls helped paint it.  They love it. 


My 10 year old (when she was 9) was really interested in anatomy.  She started by really exploring the turkey carcass from Thanksgiving.  Then, we ordered a few dissection kits from Home Science Tools.  She loved it.  We ordered more.  My dad raises beef; we got a brain, heart, eyes from him at butchering time.  She was able to see the difference between fresh/preserved samples (for her the eyes were much better fresh--the lens hasn't hardened yet, etc).  


We have done cooking too.  We set aside a time each week and they pick the recipe ahead of time.  I just guide and help where needed.  


My oldest has been working on sewing skills.  I was needed for some basics, then she took over and found some projects to do.  I am always available for help/guidance, but she has been learning from mistakes too.  


So, sometimes the "project" is elaborate and covers several subjects (like in my photography example) and other times, it is just a time set aside to dive into an interest without requiring it to be anything more than it is.  



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