Overview: Project-based homeschooling reminds us to focus on deep, meaningful learning in our life rather than getting caught up in the stressful drama of getting lots of “things done.”

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Have I lost my mind?

Usually when a public school parent hears the words…

“Mom! I have a project due tomorrow!”

They start to flip.

They rush to get it done…usually more the parent than the child.

Leaving them with a house full of glitter, glue, and paper mess.

But do projects need to be such a hassle in a homeschool setting?

The quick answer is no. Projects don’t have to be a headache.

In fact, our whole homeschool is based on projects.

It’s all we do. 

What is Project-Based Homeschooling?

The basis of a true project-based homeschooling approach is following the child’s lead. You pay attention to their curiosities and supply them with materials to help them learn about those interests.

The project is whatever they decide it should be. You are not assigning a specific type of project with guidelines.

The project is in their hands.

You listen to their questions and set up invitations to explore or create that help them answer those questions.

Their questions guide the learning.

It’s about learning what they want to learn, not separate subjects. With project-based homeschooling, important academic skills are integrated into the learning of their interests.

How Will They Learn Academic Skills with Project-Based Learning?

You’re probably starting to worry…

Questions of when and how your child will learn those important academic skills when you just focus on their interests are starting to creep in.

It’s a question most parents are concerned about.

But I want to take a minute to share one of my favorite quotes from John Holt…

“Of course, a child may not know what he may need to know in ten years (who does?), but he knows, and much better than anyone else, what he wants and needs to know right now, what his mind is ready and hungry for. If we help him, or just allow him, to learn that, he will remember it, use it, build on it.”

John Holt

What’s important to the child today is what he needs to be learning about because that’s what he will remember.

Your child may remember bits and pieces of the math lesson you taught a few weeks ago where he was bored or frustrated…

But we’re not going for bits and pieces here.

We want true, deep learning that your child will remember and carry with him for the rest of his life.

Yes, your child needs to learn important skills.

But we don’t need to worry about being behind. We’re all behind in something when being compared to another person.

I’d rather my child know 100% of the skills he will need in order to be successful in his own UNIQUE life than a bunch of random bits and pieces of a million different skills.

Our focus should be on building a strong love of learning and teaching our children HOW to learn.

Related: Our Unique Approach to Homeschooling

Because when your child knows how to learn, there are no challenges standing in their way.

With a strong love of learning on top of knowing how to learn…

Success is inevitable because they will always know HOW to learn a skill that is stopping them from accomplishing what they have set out to accomplish.

How to Plan for Project-Based Homeschooling

Just because you’re planning your lessons around your child’s interests doesn’t mean you have to wake up each day without a plan.

You can still plan ahead when following your child’s lead.

The first step is to determine interest. You can do this in a variety of ways:

  • Ask them
  • Read a book about a topic you think they’d be interested in
  • Go on a field trip
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Let them pick a book from the library

All of these activities will give you clues into what your child is interested in.

If there is something you want your child to learn then you can set out some resources, books, or go on a field trip to try and intrigue them.

Related: How to Write a Homeschool Unit Study

Once your child is interested in a topic, then you can start planning activities to help them satisfy their curiosities. These are usually hands-on activities that help your child deeply learn about the topic. Project-based homeschooling isn’t about surface-level knowledge. It’s about deep understanding.

That last part is being able to apply what was learned. They are usually hands-on, independent extension activities. This is where your child can really take their learning of the topic and apply it to real-life situations.

When a child has intrinsic motivation to learn about a topic the learning happens naturally which means they’ll actually remember it and apply it. That’s what project-based homeschooling is all about.

Traditional Education Standards Are Failing 65% of Students

It's Time To Do Something About That!

Download our free guide on the developmentally appropriate, natural learning standards. Use the research-based guidelines to help you understand what and when your child should be learning specific skills, so you can get your child’s homeschool plan completed in 30 minutes without spending hours researching curriculum.