PDA

View Full Version : Managing Resources with Project-Based



Solong
04-28-2014, 12:35 PM
We muddled our way through curriculum choices, mistakes and budgeting. We stumbled into project-based intuitively, and then found out that it was called "project-based" (or inquiry-led, or interest-led). Whatever you call it, it is the perfect fit for dd9. She is thriving, and it is FUN.

However. I'm back to struggling with trying to manage our resources; time and money. The same place I was two years ago with curricula! At first, her projects were heavily influenced by dh and I, our jobs, our home. This made it easy for us to support her - we were the resources, and we are free. Then, she branched out to things she saw in our larger family-friends community - still ok, just needed to schedule ourselves around others more.

Her circle continues to grow, her interests are expanding; good, normal. The problem is, I've surpassed my comfort level time-management wise. She doesn't seem to be anywhere close to reaching hers, because she doesn't have all the other demands that I do. I've outsourced where I can, but now some of her interests have moved beyond our circle.

Project-based can be dang expensive. We've come up with the solution of a reloadable visa, loaded with $250 quarterly. That's what we've got for projects, end of story. She finished her first load a full month ahead of her second one - so, yeah, it's frustrating. For all of us, I assure you. I'm pushing through my guilt and sticking to the schedule :_s:

I've combed Lori Pickart's blog, but it is not an active forum. When it is active, it's mostly preschool, or early elementary stuff. Nothing about managing resources long-term or supporting their needs when you can't find/afford resources.

Is anyone else struggling with supporting project-based learning?

popsicle1010
04-29-2014, 03:51 AM
I'm not in the same boat, but am interested in this conversation. Good for you for trying to give your daughter what she needs to learn. I know it's a lot to juggle.

justabout
04-29-2014, 05:59 AM
I think it's a great learning opportunity in itself. You are teaching her how to manage money, to budget herself, to learn the difference between project needs and project wants. That is an awesome skill (and if you find a project-based website for older kids, I am all ears)

farrarwilliams
04-29-2014, 07:38 AM
What are you spending on exactly? We're moving to being more project based but I'm not anticipating that it will cost that much. Is it just getting outside help?

As for your time, if you need to do less, do less. I feel like it's great to be there for them, but I dislike when homes have no boundaries. Just set a time during which you help and beyond that time, you don't do anything but nod supportively. My boys have a long block of evening project time now and I resolved to help at the start for a little bit and then the rest of the time they have to figure it out. I won't do more than answer a very quick where's the... question.

farrarwilliams
04-29-2014, 07:39 AM
Btw, it sounds like you guys are really rockin this homeschool thing. ;)

freerangedad
04-29-2014, 09:15 AM
I agree with Farrar. It does sound like you are rockin the HS. I was inspired by reading the history of your daughter's bee venture. Could you share with us how project based ed works in your house? It sounds like something I would like to incorporate into our HS. I would like to say we practice interest-based ed, but I'm not sure that's accurate. It's normally, "Hey, would you like to learn about this?", and the answer is normally yes. The closest thing to project based ed that we are doing is making a web page about the flora of our area, but this is a case of me being lucky enough to get her to join me in my interest. My question is, how are you doing it differently? I'm assuming that you are incorporating writing, and possibly even math, into the projects. Is this true?

Now to you question. I have no advice. :) Seriously, it sounds like you have been very successful doing what you've been doing. I can see how you might be hesitant to change things too much. Of course, you need your own time. Make sure you get it. I think it's that simple.

As to the question about money... I'm going to present your budget to my school board (AKA wife) and ask for the same. :)

Teri
04-29-2014, 09:58 AM
How old is your daughter? Since you said you didn't want elementary, is she in middle school/high school?
How does she determine what to spend her money on? Is there a process?

Solong
04-29-2014, 10:27 AM
Lol, thanks. I feel like Dd9 (just finished G4) is rockin the HS... and I'm just trying to not get lapped.

Money-wise, we pay for 4H (this year: beekeeping, poultry, digital photography) and one other activity (this quarter, she wanted us to pay for hoop dancing). I love 4H, because she can do up to four activities/projects (so, a sneaky way to support four things in one), and do them HERE - not so much extra driving, etc. We also buy math and other necessary (by our perception) curricula. She pays for the rest with her visa. This quarter she paid for yoga ($40 for a four week trial), birding contest (http://youngbirders.aba.org/young-birder-of-the-year-contest) ($85USD - hello, lesson about exchange rates), and an online Food Safe course ($110). The Food Safe is required by the local Farmer's Market to sell food (and is NOT part of 4H, as she argued). Maybe we are a cautionary tale as far as the costs of project-based. It shocked me how it started to add up.

It... snowballed. She kept adding projects. Braille, for example, eventually cost us around $200 for supplies/books. She totally stuck with it, so ok. I don't know a friggin think about braille and don't have the time/interest to learn it. So, when she gets stuck or needs help - I have to sit down and catch up, to try to help her problem-solve her way through it. It isn't an open and go project, it requires feedback, and we have no one that can help us out. Birding is an example of one she gets lots of outside help on, and is relatively low-cost money-wise, but is STILL a time-suck for me. She loves to show/tell/share (I'm starting to hear myself sound awful) and that requires me to drop all else (and maybe get ds dressed for a hike out to the site of the happenings).

I work from home. I love the hs thing, love project-based, love dd's passions... I also find myself hoping that she'll lose interest in two... or three... things... so I can get my work hours in :( It sounds awful. Yep, it is about re-negotiating the boundaries. Possibly more between dh and I than between dd and I. I think my work hours need to happen in the downstairs office, where I am officially off-limits (like he does). I feel spread too thin, but don't know what I want to change.

Solong
04-29-2014, 11:11 AM
Teri, this is our first go-round with the visa. We sat down and she listed out her goals for the next three months. We estimated any associated costs, and she put them in priority order. Then she IMMEDIATELY spent all her money. I told her, and now she knows, that she can't make changes once the money is gone. This is why I am sticking to the budget - hopefully, the next quarter will go better. Lori's website seems to be used by mostly PreK-G2 parents.

Solong
04-29-2014, 11:26 AM
Freerangedad... idk. We do a little math and LA four (well, three now) mornings a week (1-1.5 hrs), then she goes to 'work'. She has project notebooks/boards and a calendar. The calendar lists things that need to be done on certain dates, like lessons or meetings or citizen sci deadlines. So, if there is something on the calendar - she does that first. Or, if we'll be gone tomorrow and something is due, she'll get it done today. Then, it depends. Yesterday was gorgeous, so she walked by all her projects and went outside. Sometimes, she'll go straight through the day on things. There is definitely a seasonality to it all... and we are headed into the busy season. Probably part of my increased stress.

I don't incorporate anything into her projects, but I do make out-loud observations. "I don't understand what you wrote here about this bird, can you read it to me?" Then, she'll see that she left out a few words, or misspelled something. Or, "Wow, this chick is gaining weight at a faster rate than the others, see how the lines are diverging... wonder if it's a roo." That kind of thing.

BakedAk
04-29-2014, 11:28 AM
Anon - that's why I quit going there (to PBH forum). She has a PBH with teens section, but my kids fall between the two stages. Also, their "deep interests" seem to be, for Boy: reading and then drawing millions of pictures of characters from the latest obsession, then drawing the necessary parts for this year's Halloween costume; for Girl, reading, then reading some more, then whining because she's tired of reading, but not interested in anything else. At least your Girl has interests! (sigh)

Mariam
04-29-2014, 11:53 AM
Is there a way to incorporate free resources with the topics? For example, if she really wants to keep going with a topic that is research orientated, can she do research on her own to find free, low-cost resources from the library or internet that will supplement her understanding of the topic?

Also, you could have her create a report of sorts that help plan out her future learning, what resources worked for her and didn't work. The next month could be spent coming up with a feasible plan. Or this could be a reflection on her work, what she as learned and where she is going.

freerangedad
04-29-2014, 12:59 PM
I work from home. I love the hs thing, love project-based, love dd's passions... I also find myself hoping that she'll lose interest in two... or three... things... so I can get my work hours in :( It sounds awful. Yep, it is about re-negotiating the boundaries. Possibly more between dh and I than between dd and I. I think my work hours need to happen in the downstairs office, where I am officially off-limits (like he does). I feel spread too thin, but don't know what I want to change.

First of all, I'd like to express my admiration for you and all of the other working HSers out there. It's a wonder to me that you ever manage to not feel spread too thin. I have no advice on your time management other than to say that the choices that you have made, up to this point, have obviously served your daughter very well. Here's a virtual pat on the back AnonyMS.

Thanks for taking the time to explain how you HS. It's brilliant. It seems like you have managed the money issue with the credit card (something we will adopt when it is applicable). If money is an issue, make her pay for more with the credit card. $1000/yr is a pretty generous budget.

Solong
04-29-2014, 01:53 PM
Is there a way to incorporate free resources with the topics? Fore example, if she really wants to keep going with a topic that is research orientated, can she do research on her own to find free, low-cost resources from the library or internet that will supplement her understanding of the topic?

Also, you could have her create a report of sorts that help plan out her future learning, what resources worked for her and didn't work. The next month could be spent coming up with a feasible plan. Or this could be a reflection on her work, what she as learned and where she is going.

We always start a project with free/low cost resources, and make sure it 'sticks' before investing money in it. As far as internet research, I sometimes feel it is part of the problem! She doesn't just want to show up at the farmer's market and sell honey sticks with a homemade sign - gdarn pinterest!!!!! Forget porn, how do I block pinterest?! She wants to sew a banner, make business cards, what about her 'uniform'... It exploded to a ridiculous level.

Idk about reports.... I sort of envisioned project-based as being more about exploring a passion (learning being a by-product). Maybe my expectations are too low? I didn't expect her to adopt ten interests, which was totally predictable if I thought about it for five seconds. She's nine. They think everything is cool. Apparently, it's a precursor to NOTHING being cool.

I'm thinking where we really screwed up was helping too much with the first few out of the gate. They were all critter projects, and we are both wildlife biologists. We got carried away, and set the bar way too high. She's expecting the same level of support for all projects. We just can't do it. We don't know anyone who can do it. It's time to admit my limitations, and brace myself for some disappointment.

Also, I re-read my posts and see that another mistake was agreeing to pay for all 4H costs. Four projects in one... hello?

fastweedpuller
04-29-2014, 02:34 PM
Idk about reports.... I sort of envisioned project-based as being more about exploring a passion (learning being a by-product). Maybe my expectations are too low? I didn't expect her to adopt ten interests, which was totally predictable if I thought about it for five seconds. She's nine. They think everything is cool. Apparently, it's a precursor to NOTHING being cool.

I'm thinking where we really screwed up was helping too much with the first few out of the gate. They were all critter projects, and we are both wildlife biologists. We got carried away, and set the bar way too high. She's expecting the same level of support for all projects. We just can't do it. We don't know anyone who can do it. It's time to admit my limitations, and brace myself for some disappointment.

I'm seconding the idea of reports. A big thing about our homeschooling is "show what you know." This could simply be journalling but with the program we chose for 4th grade, reports/persuasive writing and of course drawing it all has been very helpful in reining in her interests. And as a work-from-home parent too (she is sitting next to me right now, doing a report on cowboy songs) it models the exact thing that *I* have to do when I work: it is not 100% about fun, unfortunately, and about 80% of what I do for work is conveying information to other people (in the form of drawing or writing or both).

That said, our girl has bees, taps maple trees/boils sap, does 4H (rabbits/chickens/dairy goats) and now is milking her own doe (albeit slowly). She has tons of crafting hobbies. Maybe I am missing out on a major opportunity, but I don't call those things "school." Nah, that is "life" 'round here. And she likes doing both (school AND life).

JenRay
04-29-2014, 05:20 PM
I can't be of any help to you, AnonyMs, but I am inspired by your homeschool! I checked Lori Pickert's book out from the library and have started it. My kids get lots of free time to do what they want, but mostly that involves imaginative play and Playmobil "set-ups." When they express an interest in something, we try to support them, but most of their interests have come out of something that we have exposed them to (often through curricula). For example, dd was totally passionate about Egyptology for a long time, and we really tried to support that. But she wouldn't have known if it wasn't for our history studies. Maybe it is an age thing. But I always feel like I am serving up lots of different "foods" and hoping they will develop a "palate" for something. If I ask her, she says she wants to learn everything. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I think we you guys are doing is pretty awesome and hope you figure out a way to continue to make it work!

farrarwilliams
04-29-2014, 07:14 PM
You know, I think you can just present it that you don't know any more than her and therefore can't help in the same way. Make it a you're in it together kind of thing. And then let her take the lead. You're there with the credit card and to make suggestions, but you don't know any more than she does, so you can't be in charge.

Mariam
04-29-2014, 08:58 PM
I view reports as a meta-cognitive activity. The act of writing down a reflection about what worked, didn't work, what could be done differently can be very constructive and a supportive part of the learning process. It may include some facts and data about the project, what was learned in addition to what she wants to accomplish with it in the future, if she wishes to continue with the project.

In articulating these things, she can figure out where she wants to go, where her priorities are, and the fact that she will have to make choices.

Also this is a learning process for her. Yes, for this first round she spent all of her money right away, was unable to make changes, and discovered the limitations of the projects she chose in the sense of time, money, and parent involvement. This is a good time to reassess and it sounds like you built this into the project with the $250 limit per quarter. This may be going better than you thought.

aspiecat
04-29-2014, 09:22 PM
It is HUGELY tempting to be over-involved in our kids' homeschooling, the actual work, I mean. After all, the whole point to homeschooling IS to be there to support and involve ourselves in what our kids are doing. We want to be a part of what our children are learning, and give them the assistance they require that they otherwise wouldn't receive at a regular school. So when they are keen on something that is of particular interest to us, we can get a wee bit OTT at times, can't we?

Ds is studying the history of the English language atm, and I can't help but get uber-involved in his activities and assignments, as the study of ancient Indo-European languages was my specialty area at varsity. I am a right royal pain at times...my poor son LOL. I have to force myself to let him do his work and come to me only when he needs help.

aspiecat
04-29-2014, 09:29 PM
I should add that project-based work is, like any part of a home-school education, a double-edged sword. DS is doing a mixture of project-based and curriculum-based work, and benefits from both, depending on his enthusiasm for the subject-matter. We are lucky that my DH and his mother are both quite involved in my son's homeschooling too, and come up with innovative and relatively cheap ways to supplement project work when extra materials are required.

Solong
04-29-2014, 11:15 PM
I should add that project-based work is, like any part of a home-school education, a double-edged sword.

Yes. I'm confident that it is the right approach for my kid, for now. I was also expecting it to be a better/easier approach for me, which was unfair. It is just as much work as a curriculum based approach; much more so at times. We traded one set of challenges for another.

Then there's me. The common denominator. I have a hard time saying no, asking for help and being honest with myself about my limitations. It makes me feel scattered and ineffective. Still working on it. Just picked up "Essentialism" from the library today - it was bathed in light on the new book shelf.

We want to stick with projects, but I need to come up with a list of very specific changes we can make, so it is manageable for me long-term. If we go down in a fiery ball of hyperactivity, it will end back at ps. Thank you for all the recommendations, I'm chewing on them all. Thanks for the encouragement too! The budget has slowed our momentum for now.

I would like to hear more thoughts on reports to add to my mental fire. 4H requires project reports, so those involve the type of writing that Mariam and Fastweedpuller suggest. Beyond that, she keeps project folders (or maps or boards), but the amount of 'show what you know' content varies significantly, and isn't up to 4H level requirements. Having a required format feels like a sure way to squash her enthusiasm. Again, my expectations may be way off here too?

We DO writing - but possibly less than most G4s. I'm struggling with setting my own time boundaries, so the idea of imposing my expectations on her projects is really hard to imagine. I think I would be more comfortable just requiring more writing at table time, and leaving her projects as her own...

fastweedpuller
04-30-2014, 10:58 AM
I would like to hear more thoughts on reports to add to my mental fire. 4H requires project reports, so those involve the type of writing that Mariam and Fastweedpuller suggest. Beyond that, she keeps project folders (or maps or boards), but the amount of 'show what you know' content varies significantly, and isn't up to 4H level requirements. Having a required format feels like a sure way to squash her enthusiasm. Again, my expectations may be way off here too?

We DO writing - but possibly less than most G4s. I'm struggling with setting my own time boundaries, so the idea of imposing my expectations on her projects is really hard to imagine. I think I would be more comfortable just requiring more writing at table time, and leaving her projects as her own...

Frankly I have had a hard time stepping back too, especially with the writing/report-type stuff. Fortunately OM was varied enough in terms of what writing was required (i.e., a full-on expository report, starting with an outline, which ran 10 pages...to a short story (another 10) to simple book reports, starting with 3 paragraphs for the first book then up to 6 paragraphs for the last book, to persuasive "my dog is the best kind of dog" arguments...and each SUBJECT had writing/reports/notes) that I did not get much other than the expected resistance to the assignment. We ARE accidental homeschoolers, though; her reading level was shite at the end of 2nd grade and we had to get her well over her fear/resistance in gr3 that by gr4 it was still there but it's, uh, manageable now.

One thing I think we'll keep from the Waldorf-y-slash-OM method going forward is the idea of Main Lesson Books per subject. We used large spiral-bound sketchbooks and they are highly illustrated now; other than the drawings and records done per assignment, we tape in the writing assignments (lined paper, yes, I am not 100% waldorf at all) and any background info. she researched...she LOVES reviewing them. Once I saw that she loves going back through them, I really had her try to describe what she did per assignment so that (trickster that I am) she can better remember what worked and what did not and WHY. "Write to your future self," I said. It has helped enormously!

So sure, 10 page reports sure don't sound like fun, and do stretch a 4th grader...but illustrating them and reading beforehand and outlining what she is going to say were all great steps in the process. Her confidence has soared though she still says she hates writing. We'll work on that for some time yet I fear. I am not at all worried the assignments kill her enthusiasm though.

BakedAk
04-30-2014, 11:24 AM
Two things Lori Pickert says that may be worth thinking about:

1. In PBH, a kid' project is up to them - what they learn about, how they learn about it, how they present the info to others, and when they're done with it are all the decision of the child. (So, if you decide reports are the way to go, you might casually suggest that as a form of info sharing, but it's up to her)

2. Often, people write in to the forum wondering how to handle an overabundance of enthusiasm for an overabundance of projects. She usually says something like, "Pick one or two deep interests to support." They can do as many things as they want, but you only have to support the ones you are most able/willing to support.

Then again, if you butt in WAY too much on a couple of her projects, maybe she'll decide to only do the ones you're less involved in. (Like when I tried to extend Boy's dinosaur interest, and he dropped the subject like a hot potato.)

Solong
04-30-2014, 04:44 PM
Ok, we've come up with step one.

All of her projects have three ring binders, a map or a target board. Everything is getting moved into three ring binders, and some will have seasonal tabs, when there is seasonality involved. She has to fill out a Resource Page for the front of each project binder. This will list her mentor(s) for that topic and their emails, websites, lessons, books, etc. The next page will just be a zip lock bag, hole punched for receipts.

She likes to 'organize', so this is going over well. Step two will be that I will not be listed on every resource page! I'll always be there to help her access a resource, sure, but like Farrar said - sometimes, I just don't know. Look it up, ask your mentor, reserve a book at the library.

BakedAk, it is very much about her in-between age - you're right. PB is easy and fun for littles, independent and rewarding for secondary... but, in-between is a bit harder. They still need help, but they've branched beyond what we can quickly pull out of the old brain bank. For my dd, her skills/abilities often don't quite match up to her ambitions. Nine is a frustrating age for an old soul.

pdpele
04-30-2014, 05:32 PM
This is a great thread to lurk on! AnonyMS - feel your pain on the working at home/HS combo. Sometimes it's great, convenient, workable...sometimes not so much. I would definitely think about the balance of work/time/HS responsibilities between you and your DH - maybe y'all could come up a with a plan that's more equitable - saves some time for you when you are off limits to your dd?? Seems like you thought some of your stress over the time/money projects issue might be due to this issue as well....

Ok, decent advice maybe. I'm waiting for the lightning to strike me down, though, 'cause if you're like me - you make the plan, it seems reasonable, yet you still have the same old tug of war.

Really like your description of how y'all 'do' PBH!!!

Solong
05-01-2014, 12:51 PM
This is a great thread to lurk on! AnonyMS - feel your pain on the working at home/HS combo. Sometimes it's great, convenient, workable...sometimes not so much. I would definitely think about the balance of work/time/HS responsibilities between you and your DH - maybe y'all could come up a with a plan that's more equitable - saves some time for you when you are off limits to your dd?? Seems like you thought some of your stress over the time/money projects issue might be due to this issue as well....

Ok, decent advice maybe. I'm waiting for the lightning to strike me down, though, 'cause if you're like me - you make the plan, it seems reasonable, yet you still have the same old tug of war.

Really like your description of how y'all 'do' PBH!!!

Yeah, I'm not going to creat a BIG PLAN. It would just fall apart. What we are doing is working well - for everyone except me. I need to baby step my way to a more comfortable place for myself.

Dh and I do need to figure out a better plan for work. That is just a life-balance issue, not really a project-based homeschooling issue. Stress, injuries, changing needs for the kiddos... We're talking about making some big changes work-wise. I can't predict what will happen. Whatever happens, I want to set up the pbh in such a way that it is most likely to continue to be an integral part of our lives.

popsicle1010
05-02-2014, 03:29 AM
I love when people take responsibility for their own contributions to tricky situations. Not everyone is good at doing that. Hats off to you! :)

It sounds like you are on well on your way to finding your balance.

Solong
05-06-2014, 11:55 AM
Step one and two are helping. Just the decluttering helped to ease my stress. The maps aren't staring me down over supper. Once she lined all her binders up on a shelf, she realized how many things she was trying to juggle. Other light bulbs:

Screening projects ideas. I didn't screen well. Ahem: beekeeping. It is not really possible for a nine year old to do independently. I'm going to screen future projects more carefully. I will say 'no' more.

My kid is a perfectionist. She can't live up to her own expectations, so she asks for assists. I love that she loves science and languages - but, I'm gently encouraging her to find projects that are more forgiving and fun. We're skipping Latin and Swahili in favour of getting her outside with her camera this summer.

She has a hard time letting go of older projects, because she feels a sense of responsibility to them. Who will report to IceWatch when the ice goes out on the lake?! No one. And that is ok. Who will keep track of the osprey nests?! No one. And that is ok too. We are tucking the binders under a cabinet - if she runs inside to pull one out, that might be a keeper project. If one gathers dust, we'll help her feel ok about letting it go.

I think she was feeling quietly overwhelmed, and the addition of new projects was (a little bit) about distracting herself from that feeling. I showed her this picture from "Essentialism":

Google Image Result for http://m.c.lnkd.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/6/005/051/1dc/0bd292b.jpg (http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://m.c.lnkd.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/p/6/005/051/1dc/0bd292b.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140331090432-8353952-one-surprisingly-secret-of-highly-productive-people&h=675&w=488&tbnid=3UBZvM4LqILjdM:&zoom=1&docid=WEzRAlUYy4QW0M&hl=en&ei=nQRpU8S0N9froATC6oLoBg&tbm=isch&client=safari&ved=0CD0QMygGMAY)

We talked about how if she has fewer projects, she'll get more out of each one. She countered with the fact that she is nine, and she wants to try as many things as possible... fair enough. At least we are talking about it. I'm not nine, so I'll be doing far fewer projects!

Solong
05-20-2014, 10:36 PM
Bird nerd season. :D Birding has pushed into the lead project-wise and easily outpaced/replaced many others. This is a huge relief.

Another observation is coming into focus for me: when she feels really fantastic about one particular project, she is totally fine with letting the others slide. When she feels less confident/competent about her projects, she goes into information-gathering mode. I think she is frantically looking for winter's version of bird nerding. The winters are so looooong, by the end she's fried. Me too.

murphs_mom
05-21-2014, 01:27 AM
Coming late to the party, but just wanted to add that one way we deal with the project/interest-based projects is to make DD responsible for paying for some of the expenses. Yeah, we're that mean. If she wants to take a spin at throwing pots w/a pottery wheel, then she has to help pay for whatever is needed to make the project happen. A chore list is made up, pay rates are assigned to the list, and her earnings are recorded on her personal calendar at the end of the day. Fewer 'whim'-based projects make it through that blockade.

IF it's something she's really into, is willing to finance (at least in part), and has elements that are pricey, we will do the freecycle or craigslist thing first to see if we can get the stuff for nada or on the cheap. If that doesn't work, I've also resorted to bartering. Both DH and I have done work (photos, graphics, computer repair, etc.) in exchange for project things. The only one we've failed to facilitate was her desire to take horseback riding lessons. It wasn't so much the expense that made me wince, it was DD's lack of coordination. After going through the Easter Seals' therapy sessions, I know it wasn't all in my imagination; girl has a weak core and right-sided weakness. I hated telling her 'no', but sometimes it has to be said.

FWIW, I wish my parents had been at least 1/4 as supportive as you've been with your DD. If I had an interest in something, sometimes they'd get the supplies for me, but that was it. No lessons, no assistance, zero interest. It's just who they were. I can only hope that your girl realizes how lucky she is. :)

Solong
05-21-2014, 10:19 AM
Thanks, Carolyn. She's a good kid. Beekeeping is the first thing to become self-supporting through the farmer's market booth. No more money for bees from us. She sometimes entertains her brother @ a toonie for fifteen minutes. I think she would love to be paid to do ANYTHING else, and turn herself into a Molly Maid. It would cost me more than her current budget, I just know it would. Brother-minding is naturally self-limiting, lol. I envision that she'll slowly take over funding her projects independently... but, it's a foggy vision as of yet. The freecycle shed and Value Village are regular stops for project materials!! Love them.

Horsemanship, sigh. We tried to support that one, but then her instructor moved three hours away. I actually made the drive for several weeks longer, but then had to say 'no more'. I have a harder time saying it than she has hearing it. (beats head against table)

justabout
06-03-2014, 03:02 AM
Yes, it is a really inspiring way to work and is making me reflect a lot on how I manage my own schooling. Thank you.

Solong
06-24-2014, 04:35 PM
So, the second funding load is going better. We tucked everything away, and let her favourites float to the surface again. We also had some health issues come up (ah, perspective) and a holiday.

She is still going to be finished with her three month budget in under six weeks... but, it's an improvement. She's mainly orbiting around birding and 4H, both of which have documentation components (essays, power point presentations, journaling, etc). It's nice to have external sources making these demands on her. Keeps the peace.

I'm trying to use the birding and 4H programs as a template for the documentation/reporting side of other projects. We are creating pages for her project binders, which gives her a framework to work with (calendars, journal pages, writing prompts and questions).

I'm also being far less responsive to new interests. I wait it out, to see if it is a project-worthy interest. There is plenty for her to investigate on her own, via the net and library as a starter. That being said, I have to admit that her most valuable projects have been topics that I wasn't very excited about... so, I'm open to anything reasonable. As long as she is serious about it.

Solong
08-24-2014, 03:11 PM
Third funding load is coming up. This time she's spending all her money on activiites.

Things that were left on the shelf included: Dakelh, endangered species map, hoop dancing. Things that were pulled out regularly: birding, beekeeping. In-betweener: braille. New to the party: yoga, digital photography.

Big changes in our homeschooling this year. One thing that freed up considerable time was dropping formal math (not recommending it, just reporting it). I think this tough transition period was mostly due to our treating project-based too much like traditional schooling. She felt pressure to work on certain things at certain times, and to always finish them to completion. It's been nice to just let her work on her interests as she feels inspired to, and to realize it's OK to not finish everything. Sometimes a project is not as interesting as you anticipated it would be.

We are also coaching her to set more attainable goals for herself. She decided she wanted to write a field guide on owls for the research forest. We suggested that maybe a poster would be a good start. She heard on the news about a 12 year old certified yoga instructor... she wanted to get certified. We suggested she just do a yoga class for our family a few nights a week.

A few other local(ish) families are dabbling in pbh. It just doesn't seem to lend itself to well to the traditional school approach of 'work hours' and 'off hours'. It's far more productive and fun when they can work as they feel inspired to - thus, most of them are doing math and la first thing in the mornings, then letting go. The results are very mixed, lol.

Starkspack
08-24-2014, 03:32 PM
AnonyMs, I appreciate your periodic updates on this system. I think it is a great idea, and one that I am filing away for future use. So thanks! :)

Solong
08-31-2014, 11:47 AM
AnonyMs, I appreciate your periodic updates on this system. I think it is a great idea, and one that I am filing away for future use. So thanks! :)

LOL! You are welcome, Starkspack. I'm not sure why I keep documenting it. I assume there are looky-loos that are interested in pbh (or whatever you want to call it). We love it, but it most certainly is NOT a panacea. It took time for me to stop looking around for the perfect program and just start working at individualizing the style of learning that she loves. I'll give an honest experience of pbh, warts and all.

Catateo
09-03-2014, 09:44 AM
I am completely inspired by your family's PBH journey. Thanks for updating.

One thing that struck me (and maybe you have already done), is that it might be a good idea to sit down together periodically and do a budget. A semester budget, a project budget, even a time budget. Tedious, yes, but a great skill, especially for someone like your daughter who no doubt will be juggling projects her whole life. Not to mention it's very practical math:)

modmom
09-18-2014, 09:54 PM
Thank you for sharing! I want to do this so bad, but DS is only interested in Legos and ninja turtles. :)

BakedAk
09-19-2014, 01:00 PM
Modmom - your ds is the same age as my boy, who is also obsessed with Legos. Just swap out Ninja Turtles for Star Wars. Have you checked out the book and website Project Based Homeschooling (http://project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog) by Lori Pickert? She would say that Ninja Turtles and Legos are fine for project topics. Join the forum over there - Lori is very accessible and will answer posted questions quickly. Other folks questions and suggestions can be very enlightening, too.

crazyme
09-19-2014, 01:56 PM
Along with the budget idea that Catateo suggested is having her write out a proposal for each major new project. It might not work since she already has her Visa card, but it's a thought. When our niece came to live with us (15 y.o.), she had all kinds of great ideas which we could easily see would cost a lot of money and time. So we made her make a proposal and present it to us. It made her look at all the pitfalls and costs (she was already well versed in all the positives...); she learned to evaluate on her own. Which is good, because she is the "need to find out on my own" type. The proposal had to have estimated costs both outset and over time (or comparison costs if she was looking to purchase something), estimated time, plus a list of positives and negatives/problems.

I would also advertise your working hours. (Easier said than done, as I promised myself I would start writing again, but it is still being swept away by other things.) Set out clear boundaries on what can or can not be asked/done during that time, and give her a special notebook to write down her questions and insights to ask you when you are done. This is a big thing for my eldest. He wants to tell me now so he doesn't forget. But my kids are getting to the age (11 & 7) where I can explain what I need as an individual person and have them respect that. The 11 year old has been there for awhile, but the 7 year old is just getting there and then, of course, there is the fighting...

It would also be nice if there was a project that would bring in money...

Solong
10-16-2014, 04:41 PM
We are officially in a happy phase. I stuck to the budget (loading the visa makes it so easy), so no more arguing about additional resources. She's working independently and seeking support from dh and other mentors, freeing up considerable time for me.

She did end up spending her third funding load just on activities (and $35 for FeederWatch renewal), choosing gymnastics and once monthly private swimming lessons - loving them both. There was a bit of regret when she realized she had no funds left for second language resources, but she checked out some materials from the library and re-discovered Braille.

The projects she outgrows are occasionally missed and revisited, but we are not going to worry about the paths unexplored.

The projects that she continues to stick with... they are becoming incredibly rich experiences for her. She just finished up her birding contest submissions. It was a six-month long project. These long-term projects are great for developing skills - she has to prioritize, plan and pace! Her owl poster is coming together nicely, all researched by her and supported by a mentor. She's joined three book clubs, is volunteering one hour a week at the library, and I no longer make her wait until "everything is done' to read. She read eleven full-length novels last month, in addition to graphic novels, periodicals and Youngzine. She's prepping for NaNo again. This year, she's writing a Spiderwick-inspired field guide of the plants that were featured in her novel last year. No word-count goal, just a goal to do one page each on 30 different species. This has been a big Malala month: dd read her book, we've been learning about her Nobel win and honorary Canadian Citizenship, and revisiting the UN Charter of Children's Rights.

It isn't all roseyposey. I am still struggling with doubt about letting go of her math curricula. Some of my project energy has been refocused on trying to keep math both relevant and challenging. She still has zero interest in history or music. The visual-spatial processing deficit is still rearing it's head (she's chronically uncoordinated). Finally, she's starting to grow up (how inconvenient, lol). Her social needs are starting to exceed our ability to meet them here. I feel another change of wind coming this homeschool year. Maybe a small move, maybe a big move, maybe cross-enrolment... Things never stay the same for long. I'm going to enjoy this happy phase for now.

crazyme
10-16-2014, 09:27 PM
You make me want to a project-based schedule! Great to hear things are going in a good groove.

Mariam
10-19-2014, 03:16 PM
Thanks for posting your progress. I am thinking about moving towards a project-based curriculum so it is nice to see the pros and cons. DS is not ready for it yet. Right now he wants to move quickly between topics, so we are working in more of a circular pattern, revisiting topics based on interest.

Solong
12-19-2014, 02:08 AM
I am an official PB convert. It doesn't work for all kids, but MAN! it's working for this kid. Releasing control, while maintaining firm boundaries regarding demands on resources - that was the hardest part. Honestly, I was the biggest obstacle in all this. I wish I could've just 'let go' earlier, but what can I say? It's not my nature.

The quarterly visa load is working out perfectly for us. It would be nice to increase the budget for her, but that is all we can afford for now.

I won't update again (unless something drastic happens). If you are contemplating PB - TRY IT. Let kiddo start with one obsession. Don't get attached to the topic. Don't overdirect or hijack the enthusiasm. Don't roll your eyes when they pick a random topic that you don't even think IS a topic. Don't try to expedite things when they stall. I made all those mistakes for you!! I have a silent mantra: "Play is the highest form of research" - Einstein. It helps me.

akrancher
12-31-2014, 11:40 PM
Where do you find your mentors? Friends? Colleagues?

Solong
01-02-2015, 01:09 AM
Hi, akrancher. Dh and I were her first mentors. Then, we branched out to friends (birding, Dakelh) and coworkers (botany). I've never been afraid to reach out to the larger community. In general, we've found that people love to share their knowledge with an eager kid that is properly supervised. For bees, we talked with vendors at the farmer's market (and made new friends). I enrolled her in a hobbyist course through the local community college. The historic park sold her apiary products in their shop over the summer. The librarians have helped her access braille resources, and allowed her to job shadow/volunteer. Birding eventually took on a life of it's own - she is just part of that community now.

Yoga and hooping are classes that she (or we) pay for, but the instructors have been fantastic about leading her to or allowing her to borrow additional resources.

My approach is to treat her interests as I would an adult's interests. I don't look for kid-specific resources, I just look for anything I can find. Then, if needed, I approach a business, school, individual, organisation, etc... and am very honest and realistic. "My eight year old daughter is interested in learning about bees. I don't know how serious she is about it, but could the two of us visit your apiary? She's just a regular, typical kid, but is well behaved and I would be there to supervise the entire time." Then, we see how it goes. Often, one visit is enough to know if a) she has a genuine interest that requires mentorship, b) if the mentor has genuine interest in mentoring her, and c) if it is realistic, affordable, etc.

Hope that is clear. Feeling rather sleepy and not very articulate :)

akrancher
01-02-2015, 06:00 PM
Thank you so much.

alexsmom
01-04-2015, 12:07 PM
AnonyMs, Im always so inspired by your daughters activities. I wish my son would show so much interest in anything. Hes been a lifelong fan of swords and weapons, but when I suggest Real Life activities (like SCA), he says he doesnt want to try it. Given a choice of activity, he defaults to Minecrafting.
Did your daughter express the interests in field trips to the apiary, or was that after she was full-tilt pursuing the knowledge? Do you have any suggestions for nudging a kid from passive to active learning?

Solong
01-06-2015, 12:38 AM
Beekeeping started with honey sticks at an ag fair. The guy selling them had an observation hive at his booth. She was fascinated, and I think it was he that suggested she visit an apiary. Honey is a strong motivator, I guess. This was her second year keeping bees, and her interest in actual beekeeping waned, as her interest in running a small business grew. Interests evolve. Sometimes they are abandoned, even.

Project-based isn't entirely self-directed. Learning in isolation isn't much fun, regardless of the topic. Discussion and collaboration are tinder for the spark of interest. Do a flying cannonball into the topic of weapons with him. Provide the fuel. Then: watch, listen carefully, and follow his lead.

My DS is a lover of weapons as well. He's only three, but I'm already scratching my head over this one. What exactly does your ds love about weapons? Maybe you discover he is most interested in weapons from a particular time period... maybe he just loves collecting and comparing weapons... maybe it is the mechanics of a weapon, etc.

Look for opportunities to observe or try paintball, skeet, archery, fencing, etc. Try them out with him! No pressure, just fun.

Catateo
01-08-2015, 03:48 PM
Discussion and collaboration are tinder for the spark of interest.

Swoon!

davispigeon
02-19-2015, 04:47 PM
My kids went to a project-based preschool and loved it. I was so happy to read your story of project-based learning with an elementary aged child. Thank you! You have given me lots to think about.

Solong
02-20-2015, 12:43 PM
Thanks for reading it! I'm glad other people are learning from my mistakes, lol. Nice avatar :)