Homeschooling can be an enriching experience for both students and parents. One of the most popular homeschool methods is Project-Based Learning (PBL), which focuses on child-led, experiential activities that are engaging and meaningful.
Children who participate in Project-Based Learning are more likely to retain information and better understand the materials they learn. They also develop an innate curiosity about their interests, which prompts them to seek out new knowledge from other resources outside of formal schooling.
In addition, PBL is very beneficial for students with learning disabilities because it allows them to explore their interests and develop skills at their own pace.
Project-Based Learning offers many other advantages for homeschooling families who want their children to develop an inquisitive mindset and a strong work ethic.
In this article, we’re going to explore this method in detail, share helpful resources to get you started, and link to online programs that might interest your kids.
To learn even more about various homeschooling approaches, check out 10 Different Homeschooling Methods You Need to Know.
What is the Project-Based Learning homeschool approach?
Project-Based Learning is grounded on several educational theories laid out in the early 20th century by John Dewey, Maria Montessori, Loris Malaguzzi (Emilio Reggio), and John Piaget, all of who believed that child-directed and -managed education was the key to natural Learning.
The idea behind PBL is that the children take complete responsibility for their learning by asking driving questions, figuring out the resources they need to use, how long they will work on it, etc. This type of education incorporates many skills across several topics, and learning becomes more complex and more profound than before.
PBL is engaging because it allows students to choose their paths, providing voice and personalization. Project-Based Learning also encourages higher-order thinking skills by making it necessary for students to consider many different solutions before deciding on one.
The parent’s role in PBL is to guide and assist with research, act as a sounding board, and give feedback on improving the final product. It is worth spending a lot of time thinking about each child’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as, personality to make the most of homeschooling using project-based learning methods.
This method may be right for your family if you want a self-directed learning homeschool experience that uses inquiry and real life applications.
How can Project-Based Learning contribute to your child’s development?
Project-Based Learning offers many benefits for children who are homeschooled. A lot of research has gone into the discovery that PBL allows students to learn more deeply and retain information longer and develop critical thinking skills, which are imperative in real-life situations.
PBL offers children the opportunity to discover their passions. It also gives them an outlet for expression and creativity while building essential communication skills for when they enter college or work environments.
Project-Based Learning can help children develop perseverance since it often takes a long time to complete more extensive projects. In addition, PBL teaches children how to be organized since it requires them to plan for each step of the project and stay on track until completion.
Don’t Get Confused!
Projected-Based Learning is not the same as Problem-Based Learning, Unit Studies, or Unschooling. Problem-Based Learning is a subset of PBL, Unit Studies are generally created and taught by the parent, and Unschooling is not as directed as Project-Based Learning.
What Are the Pros?
- Personalizes education: Project-Based Learning allows each child to take control of their education, guiding them in the direction they need and want.
- Fosters collaboration: Parents work to create an environment where their child feels comfortable sharing ideas and working on projects that will help them collaborate better in the future, both at home and outside it.
- Makes learning fun and creative: PBL is all about natural discovery, where students find information and knowledge by exploring the world around them. The activities are fun, educational, and practical, so children can use their new skills to solve real-world problems in practical ways.
- There’s more buy-in from your child: The more your child is involved with the learning process, the better they will adapt to homeschooling and life.
- Promotes deeper understanding: A project is a group of interrelated activities that help children understand content in meaningful ways. It includes the following:
- Researching and collecting information on their topic, which often involves reading books or articles; watching videos; interviewing experts; conducting surveys; etc.;
- Organizing all this data into some product (i.e., poster, presentation, website);
- Presenting their work to an audience or a panel of judges (family or peers).
- Fosters critical thinking: Project-Based Learning helps children to reflect on their findings and strengthen critical thinking skills.
- Learn problem-solving and project management skills: Project-Based Learning is a hands-on activity that allows students to apply what they learn in real life. They experience the problem first hand, learn how to solve it by themselves or with their team, and then implement new skills into everyday situations.
What Are the Cons?
- It can be challenging for the parent to step back and relinquish control: This method of education is all about giving children the opportunity to grow and learn with minimal interference from parents.
- If you’re required by state law to follow standards, your child may end up missing some important content if you don’t supplement their learning.
- Collaboration will be challenging if you homeschool an only or have a significant age difference between children – option is to use PBL in co-ops or search for classes that utilize the method.
- As always, group dynamics can throw a wrench into the project. If your child doesn’t get along with peers or has trouble following directions, it could end up being a less than ideal situation.
Here are some recommended resources for Project-Based Learning that homeschoolers can utilize (Note that most information on PBL is geared towards schools but can be easily modified to fit your family’s structure):
- Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners
- Project-Based Learning Made Simple
- Project-Based Teaching
- Hacking Project Based Learning
- Project-Based Learning
- Project-Based Homeschooling
- Our Journey Westward
- True Jedis: Project-Based Homeschooling Ideas
- PBL Works
- Edutopia – PBL Primer Series (Note that this is a school resource but can be used as inspiration)
- Performing in Education – April has a great course that can walk you through the process. It’s geared towards classroom teachers, but can be easily modified for homeschoolers.
- Homeschooling with Technology: Project-Based Learning Techie Style
- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast: A Project is Worth a Thousand Worksheets
- Ed Talk with Nati: Homeschool and Project-Based Learning
- HomeSchool Professor: Project-Based Learning Using Minecraft
- The PBL Playbook
- Impactful PBL Podcast
- Project-Based Learning in Practice
- PBL Works
- David Lee Ed Tech: Introduction to Project-Based Learning Process
- April Smith: How to Write Driving Questions
- Ingenious Curriculum Solutions: Project-Based Learning done RIGHT: Homeschool & Classroom Help
- The Lettered Classroom: Plan with Me Project-Based Learning
- Celebration Education: Project-Based Homeschooling
Popular Curricula & Teaching Materials
All of these groups are found on Facebook, and only the first one is geared towards homeschoolers:
- Project-Based Homeschooling
- Project-Based Learning Community
- Early Childhood Project-Based Learning
- Elementary Project-Based Learning
Homeschooling can be a rewarding experience that allows your family to create an educational path that works best for your unique dynamics.
Homeschoolers have many different methods to choose from, and you must take the time to find what will work for your family. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when teaching kids at home. What has been successful for many families? Project-Based Learning (PBL).
PBL can be a gratifying way of learning – not only for children but also for parents who get to see their kids grow intellectually as they delve deeper into topics.
And if you’re interested in learning about other homeschooling approaches, don’t forget to check out my blog post, 10 Different Homeschooling Methods You Need to Know.
What homeschooling method do you think would be best for your child? Let me know!
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.