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 (or short-term) and will be given the time and tools that allow them to spend a meaningful amount of time and energy on it. It can be used in conjunction with any curriculum or style of homeschooling, from classical to unschooling.
Are we pure project-based homeschoolers? Well, no. (Though I’m not sure there is such a thing.) I was attracted to PBH because in it I found many ideas that I was already doing, and the ideas I read about in Lori’s book, Project-based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners, helped me work through some issues I was having. It helped me see where I could draw that line between my children’s work and the work I gave them. That is, it helped me see where I could give my children complete freedom to pursue whatever they wanted while also giving them work that I felt was important.
So, if it’s not already obvious, we are not unschoolers. I do follow the interests of my children, and this is what we put most of our energy on during our homeschooling days. But there are many subjects and ideas I want to teach my children. Things they might not come to on their own. Sometimes introducing them to new subjects and ideas spurs an interest! Sometimes not. Either way is okay, but I’m glad I’ve covered what I think is important.
My husband and I also feel that if you are going to pursue something, you need to do it right. So as my children get older and pursue more costly and meaningful activities, we will provide the tools they need to fulfill their interests, and we will help them find the best resources to do the best work. Also, while they’ll always have the choice to not do something, we won’t support half-hearted attempts as much — mostly when it’s cost prohibitive. So, in this, we veer off from true PBH because according to PBH, the child should decide how much or how little he works on his project and do all the research necessary for it. Really, for us, it depends on the project.
If you want to know more about getting started with PBH, please read, What is Project-based Homeschooling? Briefly, the most important aspects of PBH is 1) observing your child, 2) creating the right environment, 3) going with their ideas first, and 4) letting them make mistakes.
Also, the following are introductory posts for learning more about PBH, and there are some good interviews with Lori Pickert about how to start with young children.
You can find links to my boys’ individual projects and how we support each one on Our Projects page.
At Home with the Editors: Shelli’s Project-based Homeschooling – A post I wrote for the home / school / life blog. It’s a big picture summary of what this PBH has looked like in my house up until my eldest son was 8 1/2 years old and what I’ve learned from it. A very good bird’s eye view!
Interview with Lori Pickert: Getting Started with Project-based homeschooling for Younger Children, Part 3 – This post had a Question and Answer with Lori Pickert in the comments area. Check out the good questions that were asked.
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.