Embracing the Project-Based Learning Season

When spring bursts, I feel invited outside and I have a keen awareness of our need to move into the homeschool project season.

For the last decade, no matter the personality of my child and their preferences, I have seen a need to change up their routines around this time of the year.

But what is project-based learning, you ask?

what is project-based learning

Once upon a time, we stopped our formal homeschool studies at the end of April and got outside to play, garden, do outside activities, and explore the world.

The homeschool project seasons might occur after our formal studies are wrapped up for the year.

We wrapped up our formal studies so we could…

  • plant the garden, diagram, label plants,
  • paint vegetable names on rocks,
  • paint our names on rocks,
  • hot glue gun rock animals together.
  • We took our easels and paintings outside and found something to paint.
  • We played Mother May I or Red Light, Green Light on the lawn.
  • There were nature and bird studies, poetry, and Shakespeare reenactments.
  • We only continued with daily music practice and math practice until the end of June.

The seasons as we knew them, from winter to spring, did indeed shift our homeschool routines: winter inside to spring outside.

What is project-based learning?

Every year in May our project season changes as the kids change, grow up, and have their own priorities. Still, though they are wrapping up bookwork, no matter what they do, learning continues. Call it the unschooling season, call it the project season, but it is all learning.

This year, my eldest took on the ultimate project: adulthood.

Just yesterday she took a rideshare to one of Canada’s largest cities, Vancouver, to learn to manage a cat hotel. She was only home for two weeks between adventures, recently returning from Mexico from a five-month solo backpacking trip. (I might add, this is all a new season for our parenting too. Tears. Pride. Awe.)

Our second daughter, sixteen, is solidly focused on completing her pre-planned academic hours.

She was busy…

  • an online chemistry class,
  • SAT essay classes,
  • analyzing literature,
  • reading,
  • learning about Canadian history, world economics, and political science,
  • studying French all the while,
  • maintaining her hours in the choir,
  • and her part-time bakery job.
  • finishing a slew of dance classes in a wonderful community dance offering this past weekend.
  • spicing up her routine with a local college course.

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Our third daughter, thirteen, is eager to upload to her YouTube channel twice a week.

She might consider doing some paid media organizing for a local business. She’ll continue with her paid laundry job but hopes to find something new to spice up her income and her experience. She’ll do more babysitting in the meantime. She has her eye on a MacBook and other YouTubing equipment. She’ll continue with her BraveWriter online writing and photography class.

Our youngest, a ten-year-old son, has the most childlike aspirations.

He’s intent on perfecting his Anki Overdrive and Crokinole games. He’ll continue to compete in online chess with his dad, earn some money landscaping around our yard, and paint a canvas to decorate our homeschool room. Maybe I can convince him to help paint the chicken coop signs: the Cluckingham Palace Welcome signs.

Of course, I’ll include some of those Shakespeare reenactments and ask for help planting the garden still.
Our children’s project ideas mature just as they are, but for younger homeschool family project seasons, I offer these ideas from our years past:

What is project-based learning? This is it: allowing ourselves to move at the freedom of our family’s rhythms, like moving from one educational season to the next, is one of the many freedoms homeschooling provides.

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Teresa Wiedrick

I help overwhelmed homeschool mamas shed what’s not working in their homeschool & life, so they can show up authentically, purposefully, and confidently in their homeschool & life.