Project-based homeschooling

Project-based homeschooling (PBH) is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, and the term was coined by Lori Pickert. It is a method in which parents become mentors to their children in order to help the child direct and manage his/her own learning. Children may undertake long-term projects and will be given the time and tools that allow them to spend a meaningful amount of time and energy on what truly excites them — on what makes them want to learn. It can be used in conjunction with any curriculum or style of homeschooling, from classical to unschooling.

{FYI Even though our homeschool is mostly child-led, I still do some formal lessons. You can learn more about how we homeschool here.}

Project-based homeschooling is about mentoring my child so that he will eventually direct his own life-long learning. It’s not “arts and crafts” or letting him do anything he wants. There are “tricks of the trade” in project-based learning that will help him dig deep into his interests and truly learn. My goal is to help other parents learn these “tricks” too – whether you homeschool or not.

Please note that to be PBH, the projects have to stem from my child’s own interests, and he is in charge every step of the way. He decides what he wants to do, read, and if he wants to draw or build something. If he loses interest, that’s okay. By contrast, if I take one of his interests and gather books, activities and art projects for him to do on that subject, that is NOT project-based homeschooling. (That is unit studies.) If you want a manual on PBH, I highly recommend Lori Pickert’s book, Project-based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learnersbut I hope my blog posts listed below can help you on your journey too.

It’s my job to model the process and behavior I want my son to emulate, and it’s also my job to document and remind him of his work. By paying attention to the “good stuff” that my son is doing, displaying his work, teaching him how to use the resources available to him, and taking him places that interest him, he wants to follow-up on the work he is doing, and often his projects will spill over into other ideas and learning opportunities. As my son does more projects, he’ll begin to take this path as a researcher more independently. I always go with his ideas first, and I only make suggestions when he turns to me for help or absolutely needs my help.

Once my eldest son turned six, we began to embark on project-based homeschooling in a more serious manner. Some of the kindergarten projects you see listed below were projects I initiated in order to “silently feed the interests” of my young children. But in later projects starting with the Celery-Lettuce Cake and Building the Titanic, my son initiated and controlled every point of the project. As he’s gotten older, I’m amazed to see how productive, creative and busy he is! And I have to do so little!

I hope you’ll follow along with us on this journey!  Thank you! Don’t hesitate to e-mail me with your questions: shellipabis (at) gmail (dot) com.



What is Project-based Homeschooling? – A good place to start.

Book Review: Project-based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

Interview with Lori Pickert: Getting Started with Project-based homeschooling for Younger Children, Part 1

Interview with Lori Pickert: Getting Started with Project-based homeschooling for Younger Children, Part 2

Interview with Lori Pickert: Getting Started with Project-based homeschooling for Younger Children, Part 3 – This post has a Question and Answer with Lori Pickert in the comments area for YOUR questions. Check out the good questions that have already been asked.

Embracing the Chaos, Part 2: Creating a Welcoming Environment for Homeschooling

Experimenting with Project-based Homeschooling, Part 1 ~ My very first glimpse at PBH. For more in depth, see other posts.

My Nature Boy – On discerning my son’s deep interest.

The Power of Time and Materials


Homeschooling Preschool the Second Time: My four-year-old’s Letter D

Project-based Homeschooling Preschool: My four-year-old’s projects

Project-based Homeschooling: Mama’s Sketchbook Habit

Kindergarten Projects:

Homeschooling: A Look At Our Hammerhead Shark Project (Part 2 of Experimenting with Project-based Learning)

How to Build a Wildlife Habitat in Your Yard

Music Appreciation with Beethoven

A Kindergarten Child-Led Project: Seeds, Plants, Gardening

The Eastern King Snake & Our Snake Project

Using Storytelling and Puppet Shows in Homeschool

Raising Tadpoles

A Child-Led Project: The Celery Lettuce Cake

Kindergarten / First Grade Projects:

Building the Titanic: Project-based Homeschooling – an example of PBH in real life.

Rockets and the Benefits of Failure: Project-based Homeschooling

The Little Projects: Project-based Homeschooling – What my son spends most of his time doing. The “in between” projects & experimentation with different mediums.

Clay Penguin – Another “little project.”

First Grade Projects

Project-based Homeschooling: Carnivorous Plants

Project-based Homeschooling:  Steps I Took to Support My Son’s Interest in Carnivorous Plants

The Power of Time and Materials

Project-based Homeschooling: Mama’s Sketchbook Habit

Project-based Homeschooling: My seven-year-old and his pottery

Project-based Homeschooling: Long-term clay interest

Project-based Homeschooling: This year’s cardboard projects

Project-based Homeschooling: DNA

Project-based Homeschooling: A Mushroom Project Teaches Mama When to Let Go

Coming in the future…

2nd Grade Projects



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