Last year at this time I wanted to try Project-Based Homeschooling. I thought I would do it once a week, one hour for each child. But I didn’t really get it: I tried wrapping it up with my own agendas for their learning in a quid-pro-quo type of arrangement. Then Life got in the way: Husband’s career was in flux, I took on a lot more part-time work, and PBH kind of fell by the wayside.
Fast forward to this past Spring, and I’m having an attack of Periodic Unschooling Panic Disorder, or PUPD. Miss Em has about 10 projects on the go in various stages of completion, some of which have been gathering virtual dust for months, and I begin to despair that she will never learn how to finish anything. Top that off with her first paid assignment as a web designer, whereby her grandmother offers her an inflated hourly wage to create a simple website for a recent business venture and it only gets done as a result of constant nagging on my part, and I’m convinced my future adult child will never hold down a job. Just to put that in perspective, she was not even 12 years old at this point. And then there is Mr. Boo, who insists he wants to learn Java and start making his own computer games despite the fact that, as yet, he has nowhere near the kind of drive, perseverance, and patience for such a venture.
While wondering how I could help my kids manage and finish projects, I stumbled across the PBH website again, did some more reading, and realized that this might be just the thing we all needed to move forward. I bought the e-book, read it, and loved it. I liked the Facebook page, began following the discussion threads, lurked around in the forums, and became more convinced that I needed to do this. Not just for them, but for myself, too.
Having finally gotten a handle on that elusive work-life balance issue (not resolved by any means, but manageable) I decided this year I was going to do PBH and do it right. Three times a week, one hour per child, completely self-directed and no we-do-your-project-idea-and-then-you-do-mine. I was so enthusiastic and excited…and yet so worried that I would not be able to see it through. Forming new habits is hard, and I find schedules almost impossible to stick to when self-imposed. Enter the PBH Master Class.
Lori, founder and guru of PBH, announced that she would be offering another Master Class this fall and after mulling it over in my head for a few days, I decided I really needed to do this. The class delves deep into PBH over a period of six weeks. I wanted to go deeper into the subject myself, but I also knew that if I was immersed in the class there was a much greater chance that I would follow through with my new plans, and by the time the class was over it would hopefully be established as a new habit.
I’m loving the course so far. We’ve begun with journaling as a way to be more mindful of our children’s interests, to observe their learning, to document what they are doing. While I am not yet mastering the art of journaling every day, I have created some entries, begun using a sticky-note system (on my smartphone, and with actual sticky notes on my desk), and am generally just being more conscious about talking to my kids about their interests. When you have older kids who do much of their work alone or in their room, it’s easy to miss out on so much of what they are working on, exploring, thinking about, wanting to learn. By regularly checking in with them I am not only getting a better feel for what they are up to, but they are responding to my interest, being the focus of my attention, and my efforts to help without interfering.
I will be posting about my own progress in the class and what I’m learning, as well as posting about the kids’ projects. We’re only one week into it, but I’m feeling pretty good about it all, and excited about where we can go with this.