Over the summer I discovered the Camp Creek Blog and Project Based Homeschooling (PBH). After reading the blog for a bit I decided to purchase the eBook by Lori Pickert. Before I’d even finished reading it I knew this was something I really wanted to incorporate into our homeschooling.
By and large, my kids do what self-directed learners are supposed to do: they have interests, they ask questions (in the car, lying in bed at night snuggling, and sometimes when I’m totally distracted by other things), and they start lots of little projects. They have big ideas and lofty goals but they lack the skills to see them to completion. I used to wonder whether they were just “flaky”, and lost interest quickly, but reading this book made me realize that being able to come up with a manageable project, direct it, set goals along the way, monitor progress, evaluate and re-evaluate, etc., are skills that kids can learn, and how better to do so than by directing their own project with the help of a dedicated mentor.
Pickert talks a lot about the value of mentoring. This is not only key to PBH, but it is also something that I have long been drawn to as the best way of educating kids. Or anybody for that matter. In PBH, the adult acts as a mentor, assisting the child and providing access to resources and materials, showing the child that their work is valued and valuable by devoting time and space to their projects, and by scheduling time for the child to return again and again to their work without being distracted by other things. But it is the child who directs the work and makes all the decisions about how to progress. They make mistakes, too, and that is all part of the learning process. The adult’s role is one of assistant, facilitator, a person off whom to bounce ideas, and to keep track of all the steps involved.
I have scheduled an hour each week to do Project Time with each child. I’ve sat down and discussed the concept with them and they are keen on the idea. I’ve got notebooks for each child in which I will jot down their goals, ideas, questions, and requests. I’ll translate these into posts on my homeschooling blog, which will be tagged for easy reference and which will be referred to in my weekly learning reports for our homeschooling program.
I’m very excited to see what project ideas the kids come up with!