The following is a post by contributing writer Michelle of Raising Cajuns.
Probably the most important change to our homeschooling routine this year has been the addition of project days. Project days are basically whatever your children want them to be. They can do an experiment, create an artistic masterpiece, sew a cat toy, craft a duct tape wallet, research dung beetles, or do whatever else might interest them.
Scheduling project days has dramatically changed the face of our homeschooling.
You see, my nine year old used to wake up every morning in a grumpy, groggy, tweenish funk. After we started labeling specific project days and times, she woke up one morning as if the birds were singing just for her. She skipped around and announced to all of us that it was project day. The amazing thing was that during that magical project time, she did almost the exact same activities she had done every afternoon before that.
The key is to name it. Own it. Project Day!
Somehow, labeling that day made all the difference in the world. She knew I wouldn’t say, “Not now, I’m making dinner,” or “How about tomorrow instead? We need to go to the store today.” There was no rejection, all of her materials were present and accounted for, and I was available to assist if needed. Voila! Like magic, I had a happy kid. For us, project days fall on Mondays and Thursdays, but you can start with just one afternoon or morning a week.
Don’t overwork it.
You don’t need to spend the night before perusing Pinterest boards for ideas or writing up plans for a scaled replica of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, you don’t need to do much of anything at all. Let your kids come up with ideas, plan them, and tell you what (if anything) they need to complete their project.
Let me give you an example of how it can work.
Today is project day in our house. After a propaganda lesson at a homeschool group earlier this week, my oldest has decided to make a silly commercial using some of those techniques. Now the girls are scurrying from room to room, selecting costumes, writing and rehearsing scripts, and staging props. My job? Hold the video camera when they’re ready. That’s it.
Yes, it can be that easy.
It you want to know more about how to incorporate interest-led projects in your homeschooling and how to encourage your students to dig deeper with their projects, I strongly recommend Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert. You can also visit her Camp Creek Blog or forum for more information. But don’t wait to learn the perfect way to incorporate this method . . . mark off a block of time this week and jump right in!
Michelle is a wife, mother, writer, and Cajun who prefers everything extra spicy. She writes about their homeschool adventures at Raising Cajuns.