Thursday, February 13, 2014

Project Based Homeschooling - the beginning

I've been reading and learning about Project Based Homeschooling, but more to the point, about child led and child directed learning. Even as young as 2 years old, we are able to help mentor our babies to learn how to self-manage and self-direct their own learning.

What a cool thought; a child who cares about his learning. I want to learn how to teach my children to directs their own projects and create their own ideas and pursues them for as long or as little as they likes. As a new homeschooler, this was the reason why I wanted to start this journey to begin with. I'm so excited to see how the next few years unfold and I'm excited to watch my children grow, create and learn.

I'd like to share a bit of what I've learned so far.

In Project Based Homeschooling (PBH), you hone in on what interests your child has and stay there as long as they are interested. You are in the room with materials, support, feedback, interest. Your taking notes, taking pictures, writing down their ideas, questions, arguements. Try to resist the urge to 'direct' out of fear they may not be learning all you think they need to be learning.  Allow them to work through their challenges as much as possible, when they ask for help, be an asking parent. "What do you think it needs? What will happen next? What are you trying to accomplish? How can I help you? What materials do you think you'll need for that?"

Truth is they are learning tons by play acting, creating, project building and talking with others. Even children that go to traditional school will be missing information and have holes in their learning after they graduate. With a child who has been taught how to learn, create and direct their own learning, you will have a child who has the skills to fill in those holes with enthusiasm. After a child graduates the learning doesn't stop. They have the choice to continue to read, learn and create or not. I'd rather have a child who is an enthusiastic and creative learner who is missing a few facts than a child who memorized a few facts but hates to read.

The truth is we are all in charge of our own learning. As many teenagers have proven again and again, "we are not the boss of them." True, you can get them out of bed, drive them to school, throw some books and paper at them, sit them in desks, but then it's all them. They can choose to listen, engage or just fade away or 'get by' with minimum.

Project Based Homeschooling is concerned with the underlying motives, habits an attitudes of  thinking and learning. The point of PBH is to devote some time in your day to help your child manage and direct his or her own learning. This doesn't have to be your entire curriculum or it does.

But it is important to allow this 'free learning time' at some point in your day.

This is part of your child's life where he is free to explore his interests and passions. He receives attention, support, and consistent, dependable mentoring from you, the parent, to help him succeed.

As I am reading all this great juicy stuff I was asking myself, um ya, great, awesome, um... HOW?

This is answered in the few books I've been reading, but in so many different ways. The how, will often depend on your family and your child. It's about becoming the people we want our children to become. Sitting quietly and taking notes and and pictures as your child is playing/creating/building. It goes beyond showing him out use a library card or bake cookies or build a mailbox.

It means being that example of learning. Not in the traditional sense of lecturing and force fed learning, but in everyday immersion in life. A life that shows challenging, meaningful work. It means you are being that life long learner. You are the mentor, the example of what's important. What do you do in a day? What do your children see you doing? Are you reading? Watching tv? Cleaning? Writing books? Painting? What are your passions? They are watching you.

Having a child watch how you handle mistakes and challenges will teach them more about how to mange your emotions than lecturing at them would. Let them see you pursue your dreams, interests, passions. Talk about your dreams, passions and your goals out loud. Let them see you continue to work towards your dreams. First step - become the mentor yourself.

That's all for today. Keep posted for more discoveries on the home front. Feel free to share ideas, questions, and your own homeschool journey. I love chatting with community.