I have mentioned project-based homeschooling (PBH) several times in this blog. I bought the book and even completed the online masterclass, but still didn’t quite feel our project time was working the way I wanted it to.
Since we moved into a new rental, we have a wonderful open-plan living space and I really wanted to make PBH work for us. We moved some of the resources so that they were more accessible to the children. I have also been trying not to clutter up the area, so that the children are inspired by what is around, and take pride in their working area and try to keep it clean. This works, sometimes!
We still have to prove to BOSTES that we are covering the NSW syllabus. Nevertheless, I have been scheduling less, setting aside more designated project time, and interfering less in the children’s own projects. I have been looking out for times when the children say, “I want to do this” or “Can we try that?” and doing what I can to support those interests.
I am regularly recording observations of the children and that helps me to stop thinking that we have to schedule in opportunities to cover the syllabus. Once you really observe children you can see how much learning is going on without you having to direct it at all. Observations are also a great way to identify recurring themes in their play.
Things that have come out of this rejigged approach: time spent playing Poohsticks or looking for eels in the nearby creek;
Reptile Boy reading to or playing with his little sister;
Drama King printing his own game cards (after playing Magic The Gathering with a few friends);
an interest in tadpoles (because I was given two by an early-years educator friend of mine);
Reptile Boy drawing even more than he did in our last place; Drama King setting up a box full of junk for his creations, like a junk robot; Drama King writing in his diary and creating a book in Minecraft; Princess wanting to grow flowers; more time playing board games (which are now accessible to the children instead of being on a high shelf);
Princess has been making wonderful pretend meals with her kitchen, wooden play food, and whatever other materials or fabric is lying around. She loves having access to the pencils, paper, card, scissors and glue. I will slowly add in other materials and try to find somewhere to display her work.
Things I still don’t feel we do well enough:
The area is still very messy and disorganised. I am tempted to clear everything out and start from scratch again.
I don’t have a good place to display children’s 3D creations.
We have to delineate the area for Lego or miniature worlds, otherwise they take over the whole floor.
I worry that Pokemon Boy is only getting a little way along the project route. I worry that his work is not really completely self-determined. He likes following someone else’s clear structured path and he loves the Youth Digital courses. I would love for him to use the skills after he has completed the courses to create something that is completely his own creation. We’ll see what he does after he’s finished their 3D animation course.
On the other hand, I worry that Drama King has so many different interests that he is not able to do really deep, meaningful work in each area. He starts something and then jumps onto his next idea. I would like to help him to complete his projects to both of our satisfaction! I suppose I need to keep reminding him of his unfinished work and see if he wants to go back to it, or practice the art of ‘strewing’ and see if the items I leave around prompt him to do something new with his current projects.
Reptile Boy still doesn’t have something we call ‘his project’ although he creates amazing things with Lego, acts out great fantasy battles with his brother and miniature creatures such as Bionicles or Gormiti, or draws them on paper or a whiteboard. I think I would like to get a video camera for them to video their battles.