View Full Version : Project Based Homeschoolers -- How Do You Stay "Well-Rounded"

11-27-2014, 08:42 PM
We're almost entirely project-based right now -- really, project-based + math, which we do separately except when it easily integrates into the curriculum. We did a long unit on Space and the solar system are currently in the middle of a shorter one on Vikings. My middle kid is DESPERATE to do Pirates after Vikings and I'm kind of holding back because it seems to be too much history, too much sea-farers, too much of one kind of thing all in a row. I would much rather do something science-y -- big kid is really interested in codes and code-breaking and cryptanalysis, which I thought would be good and the school curriculum standards say we should do some biology this year, which we haven't done. (DH, who does most of the hands-on teaching, HATES biology... he's like, look! It's an animal! It eats and poops and has a habitat. *sigh*) We can always come back to Pirates after that.

On the other hand, we LIVE in Pirate Territory right now and could work in some Earthquake stuff and maybe some under-sea biology or navigation, but I really, really hate not to follow the kids' obsessions since that's why we started homeschooling in the beginning.

I'm wondering how other project-based families navigate this stuff?

11-28-2014, 01:57 AM
We are moving toward project-based learning and I am finding that I will integrate the science right into the lesson. For the vikings/pirates I would ask: how did they navigate, what did they eat / how did they hunt, ocean currents, ocean life, and how do these things impact the vikings/pirates lives at sea? I am sure that I am missing things. The physics of how ships move, the different modes of power for the ships.

With these topics there is astronomy, physics, oceanography, biology

11-28-2014, 01:58 PM
You could try and incorporate those things, but do so gently. I've found that if I interfere too much with dd10's path, she gets frustrated and drops the topic. I've been known to do a resource dump. I pick up materials from the library, find websites, kits, ideas, etc. and just dump them in a pile. "Check it out!" Hidden within are a few mathy, language artsy type things that tie into her current obsession. If they don't interest her, I'm ok with that.

I've found that the longer a topic sticks around, the more balanced it becomes skill-wise. We've never done pirates or vikings. For codes, I can recommend "Can You Count in Greek" by Prufrock (math) and take a look at learning Braille (spelling & grammar, even history).

Project-based is a bit feast-or-famine content-wise. It is an immersive experience, so they can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. Eventually, when they get to those other topics, they'll catch up. I've had my struggles with PB, but really can't endorse it enough. It is amazing.

ETA - dd is entering a Titanic phase. If I find anything that will apply to pirates or vikings, I'll come back and post them. Have fun!

11-28-2014, 04:56 PM
There is a ton of science that you could incorporate. Math, too, for that matter. History topics have science in them and science topics are full of history. Project based is the poster child for well rounded.

12-01-2014, 01:29 PM
I think its normal that one interest leads into a related interest. Also normal that not every project will have every "subject" represented equally. After all, if you did Space, then Vikings, your kids are clearly interested in both science and history stuff, and surely science will come around again. Why not just do Pirates, make some gentle suggestions about links to other stuff (Pirates get scurvy--that's biology!), and not worry too much about it?

My son is almost 6 and has been doing project-based for a couple of years--all through preschool and kindergarten. In that time he's gone through prehistoric life and evolution, airplanes, WWII, paper airplanes and origami, geometry and math, space, and now chemistry. One often leads to the next. In his current chemistry obsession, I think he's covering the subject well enough to last up to middle school or so--and he's in K--which means plenty of time to round out with other projects later.

Being well-rounded is a nice goal in some ways. But trying to be well-rounded on a week-by-week or month-by-month scale is harder and less interesting. Even as an adult, I'd much rather focus on one thing for long enough to actually learn/do something.

12-02-2014, 07:26 PM
I think I'm also worried about reporting issues -- not only do we have to report to the State, which is pretty moderate, but I also can be called on the carpet by the kids' social worker through my work (it's complicated). I need to be accountable that we're hitting the high points curriculum-wise year-to-year, because the social worker is kind of a hosebeast. She doesn't understand homeschooling, believes everyone MUST use a boxed curriculum and is totally convinced we're educationally neglecting the kids. *eyeroll* Hopefully, this is our last year with her and the new person will be more sensible!

But yeah. I'm afraid that if we do a lot of projects that are really history focused right now that we're going to have problems because our curriculum looks unbalanced -- especially knowing that we need to do some serious remedial U.S. History in the Spring because the kids have had functionally no exposure to it and I need to at least make a polite gesture in the direction of biology sometime this year.