Review: Project Based Homeschooling

“Project Based Homeschooling”, little birds kept tweeting this into my ears. After several of my favorite mama bloggers had mentioned this book I decided to check it out. I first dropped by the Project Based Homeschooling Blog to see what the book was about and what the author Lori Pickert had to say on a day to day basis on her blog. I was immediately impressed by the excellent articles on homeschooling so I bought the book within a few minutes of checking out the website. I anxiously awaited for my copy to arrive all the while reading tweets about how awesome and inspiring this book is.

I devoured this book in about a week. The tweets had not been wrong: the ideas in this book were really fresh and inspiring. It’s also a really wonderfully radical view on homeschooling. Project based homeschooling, or home learning, is born from the desires and interestes of the learner, not the teacher or facilitator. The idea is that each child picks a topic they are interested in and forms their own projects to further explore that idea until they are content with their knowledge and experience of it. Your job as the parent/teacher is to be only a facilitator. You provide them with the time, space and materials to work and they are free to do the rest.

Lori clearly lays out the guidelines for setting up a good work space with high quality materials. She gives examples of how each stage of projects will work and how much involvement you should have, which is not much at all. I think that this is the key radical idea of the book: “self-based learning with minimal interference from you the facilitator”.  The idea of letting your child guide themselves at their own pace at first seems impossible. But as you read through each chapter and see how children are able to explore and work out problems you see that the point is the journey of exploration and not end result necessarily.

I like that she gives examples of children of different ages working on projects and that she describes the parents’ role and the process of discovery that the child takes through each self directed project. It gives you a better sense of how you can implement these ideas.

So now you might ask, “Have you started a project with your child yet?” That answer to that is that I desperately want to have S start a project, but I can’t force her into anything.   I’ve been watching her casually to see what she is interested in learning about.  She is interested in reading books about real life situations, volcanos, how babies are born, and building houses. At almost three her interests seem to change all the time, but I’m sure with a bit more observation and gentile nudging we’ll find a way to more deeply explore a topic and a project will blossom on its own.

I’m really glad to have found this book at the beginning of our learning journey because I am very certain that S is a strong self directed learner and that my forcing her to learn anything would backfire. The more organic and self directed our learning experience can be, the more she will learn.

**I wrote this post back in September and never published it as I was trying to unschool myself. It’s taken few months but I am getting there. I will have a post up soon about the changes I’ve made to our homeschool space and how that has taken a huge turn in S’s interest in self learning. 

Do you homeschool? Have you read this book? And what do think about becoming a mentor rather then the director of your child’s learning?

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10 Responses to Review: Project Based Homeschooling

  1. Lori says:

    KC, thanks so much for this lovely review. :)

    i look forward to reading more about how the changes you’ve been making have affected S’s learning!

  2. Yes we homeschool, and love it!! This book is on my Christmas wish list, if I don’t get it, I will be ordering it. I truly believe I am here to facilitate and guide my little man’s learning, not direct it. I follow his lead, and from there we explore. It is fun, can sometimes be a little scary, and yet so very rewarding.

    • KC says:

      I think you are doing an amazing job of mentoring Reece. At least from what you blog about! I hope you do get the book for Christmas, it will be a really good addition the great work you are leafy doing.

  3. Mountain Girl says:

    This book sounds great…I’ll look into it. I do homeschooling with Zia, and I want to be less and less directing and more mentoring as we go on. I think it’s something you just have to grow into as you “unschool” yourself, right? :)

    • KC says:

      Unschooling myself is the huge part. It’s way too easy to fall into the routine you know from public schooling. I find myself constant biting my tongue trying not to force S into any sort of required learning, she always shuts down if I forget. I’ve found that S is a kinesthetic learner so I try to incorporate movement into any teaching I do. For example letters we draw then on the ground with chalk and then hop on each one and say the out loud.

  4. Dawn Suzette says:

    Lori has been an influence on our homeschooling since the beginning… over four years ago. Love having all her wisdom in book form! It has been amazing to see my kids develop their interests and see me as a mentor not a teacher or director of learning.
    I am excited to hear how you have integrated her concepts into your homeschool.

    • KC says:

      We are still in the exploring materials phase. S seems to have a very short attention span and so we are working on focusing on one activity and material at a time.

  5. Heather says:

    We are an unschooling family. I really try to be a mentor as opposed to a director with my kiddos. It has worked thus far, I think. I have lori’s book as well. I have been a fan of her writing and blog for several years.

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