Elizabeth's Reviews > Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners

Project-Based Homeschooling by Lori McWilliam Pickert
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it was amazing
bookshelves: homeschooling-inspiration

Lori Pickert, the author of the inspiring Camp Creek Blog has FINALLY put her thoughts and instructions for Project- Based Homeschooling into book form. Anybody who has read her blog knows Lori has a gift for motivting, challenging and inspiring parents to give this way of learning and living a chance in their homes. For all the wisdom and call-to-action her blog imparts, the downside to the blog format is that posts are written with a very particular topic in mind with no room to expand (that's the nature of a blog post). Many parents, myself included, have the freedom to click around and we often end up piecing together posts that create an incomplete picture of what project-based learning is.

Within the first few pages of the book Ms. Pickert cleared up 2 misconceptions I had about project-based learning from reading her blog:

1) PROJECT BASED LEARNING IS NOT AN ALL-OR-NOTHING APPROACH. I read all the homeschooling books I could get my hands on while my 1st child was still a babe in my arms. So many contradictory methodologies, so many authors telling me their way was the only/best way to educate my child (or so it seemed to anxious mind). Project-Based Homeschooling is the first book on the subject of educating your child I've come across that gives you permission to hold on to whatever methodology you feel is best for your family. She is simply asking us to "devote some time to helping your child direct and manage his own learning." As she says on page 10, "This does not have to comprise your entire curriculum. (Though it can.) It does not have to be the primary focus of your learning life. (Though it can be.)" So if you're fan of Classical, Charlotte Mason, John Holt, Thomas Jefferson Education, Montessori or an eclectic mix, you can continue to educate your children according to their guidelines. You don't even have to be a homeschooler to make project-based homeschooling a part of your life!

2) PROJECT BASED LEARNING IS NOT UNSCHOOLING (although unschoolers certainly can incorporate project-based learning in their homes). Many parents who read Ms. Pickert's blog come away inspired to give what they mistakenly believe project-learning to be, radical unschooling. These parents will do away with rules, structure, routine, deskwork, etc to give what they think is project- based learning a shot, only to end up unhappy with the lack of structure so they swing back in the opposite direction. Again, Ms. Pickert is not asking us to swing back and forth. We can keep our routines, schedules, and drills that add structure to our days. She's only asking that we add project-based learning to the mix.

So how do we make project-based learning a part of our days? In this book we learn how and why to:

-identify interests

-prepare the environment (it's another teacher)

-schedule/routine (it's important to schedule a time for project learning)

-tools and materials (don't worry, you don't have to pull out a loan)

-become our child's mentor and collaborator

-create a family culture of learning based on our family values

-guide our children through the process of research, representations of his learning (how they exhibit what they've learned), fieldwork and play.

-how to talk to our children about their projects

-instructions for what to do when we see they are headed in the wrong direction with an idea (ex: your child is attempting to scotch tape a 10 lb steering to his cardboard car).

-what to do when they ask for help

-dealing with frustration

-Praise and encouragement

-Using questions to start a dialogue

-Getting Beyond the Surface of Learning by learning how to set the pace, extend ideas, collaborating, connecting with our community and reflection

The book has plenty of examples of this kind of learning in action in the form of stories and pictures. At the end of each section she gives you lists of materials and action steps that you can use to start putting these ideas into place in your family's life. She gives you permission and encouragement to go at your own pace and make mistakes along the way. Afterall, the process of becoming a project learning family IS A PROJECT in itself so treat yourself as you should your child. The whole book's tone is one of an encouraging, patient friend who has a passion for guiding parents and children in their own unique learning endeavors.

Do yourself a favor and read this book with a highlighter and pencil in hand. You will find most of your pages will turn yellow or pink as you highlight whole pages of quotes you want to remember. Right down any questions you might have and take them straight to the author herself in her project learning forum.

If your a "latin-loving classicist" or unschooler, if you feel your child's education will prepare him for college acceptance letters and a traditional job but are wondering how to prepare him for the "new economy" espoused by the likes of Seth Godin, Tara Gentile, Chris Guillebeau, Tim Ferris and others, I encourage you to read this book.

In short, this is a book you will want to buy two copies of; one to keep in your book basket for inspiration and encouragement and the other to give out to friends.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 3, 2012 – Finished Reading
July 9, 2012 – Shelved
June 14, 2015 – Shelved as: homeschooling-inspiration

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