If you went to school, you probably remember projects. Most of the time the teacher chose a subject, and maybe you had a say in what the project was about. I remember from my time in school that I was supposed to choose an animal and build a project around that. Or a problem in the world, and so on.
But what if, in that specific moment you’re not interested in the subject your teacher choose? You’re doing something because someone else is telling you too, instead you really want too.
Building motivation by having your own choice
We do it a little bit different. We do projects too, but the subjects are chosen by Maximan and it won’t take long till Miniman will choose his own projects too. What we like to accomplish by letting them choose their own subjects is, that it is something they really want. They are motivated to explore the subject. We, as parents, are there merely to guide them. To offer them support, the materials they need, feedback and of course we learn from it as well. I don’t veign interest, I am truly interested in the whole process.
Project based learning also stimulates the aspects of Multiple intelligence. Maximan is not only gathering information by using the IPad while exploring YouTube or reading (or in his case, been read to) books. But we also go out, meet people, ask questions, go to museums, do arts & crafts, sing songs about the subject and so on.
We make use of disposable checklist for unschoolers. Sandra Dodd describes four checklists.
Five senses: How can we explore the subject using our five senses? One of Maximan his fascinations is about dinosaurs. We discussed what we already know about dinosaurs and what else is there to explore. Maximan came up with the idea that he wanted to see bones of dinosaurs, which we were able to do. If he wanted to smell a dinosaur it would have been quite a challenge. So we headed to a museum were there was a dinosaur skeleton on display.
Timeline: What do we know about the history until now? We have several dinosaur encyclopedias at home with a timeline present and we discovered that the movie Jurassic Parc and information in the encyclopedia were different. Which was quite interesting. Actually, I was very impressed with Maximan for discovering that the velociraptor in Jurassic Parc was not a velociraptor at all.
Geography: Where did (do) they live? Again the encyclopedia. Per dinosaur it also states where this specific dinosaur was found.
Fantasy, reality and myth: And then the dragons came! As fantasy creatures. We watched a documentaire on YouTube were they said they had found prove that dragons were real. It is also nice to talk about the present and what animals today came from dinosaurs.
For me, these checklists are very usefull as support.
Child is responsible
And what is most important in the way we do projects. I don’t decide when we’re done. No, the children will decide. Because in the end it is not my project. They are responsible for their projects. So they decide not only the subject, but also the intensity of the projects and when they are done. Some projects take an hour, some take a week, some projects can take a year. And that is fine. As long as they are motivated, they are enjoying themselves and are having fun, they are learning as well. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Book suggestion: Project Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert.