Homeschool Helps: Learning Through Doing

Posted on December 07 2011

Learning is not limited to books and worksheets - and it shouldn't be! As a homeschooling parent, you actually have a lot of opportunities to provide meaningful and enriching learning experiences to the child. When properly designed, projects can actually work as a motivating tool for your young learners.
The ability and flexibility to have projects related to the lesson is actually one advantage of homeschooling. For one, it is a great motivational tool for your child and gives your child something to look forward to. Also, you can have a considerable number of educational and fun activities throughout the year.

Why have projects?
Projects add another layer of learning that develops important skills and values in the child. Why use projects? Here are some reasons why:

  • Projects encourage the child to be creative. The child can experiment and jazz up the way he presents the results as well as in looking for solutions for the project.
  • Projects teach the child how to conduct research, and to analyze and synthesize the information.
  • Projects cater to the various learning styles. It allows the visual learner to create or draw pictures regarding a particular subject matter. It provides the kinesthetic learner with a hands-on activity. It allows the auditory learner to verbalize the learning, especially if you require them to make a presentation about their project.
  • Projects enable the child to make choices and think for himself.
  • Projects enable the child to retain the information she needs.
  • Projects teach a homeschooled child how to interact with people given different settings. It teaches them how to behave in particular places, such as the library, the art museum or during a theater presentation.
  • Projects have great positive implications for a child's self-esteem. There is a feeling of accomplishment for a completed project and this bolsters your child's self-confidence.

Keep in mind that projects and activities don't have to be about learning - it could simply be having fun together as a family. It can be just about giving the routine a break.
Some suggestions for projects:

  • Having a science experiment
  • Making a diorama or model
  • Creating the family budget for the week
  • Staging a skit or a play
  • Having a storytelling session
  • Writing a book report or news article
  • Putting together a newsletter
  • Creating a scrapbook of your family's summer vacation
  • Doing arts and crafts
  • Putting together a commercial for the latest product
  • Creating an herb garden
  • Applying science principles to create a volcano or simulate a fog
  • Creating their own board game
  • Having a field trip to the latest museum collection

There are actually a lot of project ideas if you just look at their curriculum and see how projects can be applied for a particular lesson!

Guidelines for project-based learning
Projects are an important learning tool since it allows the child to use real life activities to gain a deeper understanding of an issue.
Some homeschooling sites provide helpful suggestions for project-based learning. But when drafting the latest project, here are some things you should consider:

  • Make sure that the project is age-appropriate. It should be something your child can do based on his skills set and age. Otherwise, you may be setting the child up for frustration when he can't complete the project.
  • Project based learning works best for more complex subjects.
  • A good project gives the child a particular problem to solve.
  • You can allow your children to brainstorm about a particular project. You can get their help to draft a project which is both relevant and real to the children. Ask them, "What do we want to learn about this project?"
  • Projects should be based on objective questions where the answers can be obtained by research, experimentation and interviews. Projects should not be based on issues that are subjective and based on opinions and beliefs.
  • Have projects that encourage the use of technology. For instance, for a history presentation, encourage the child to use PowerPoint or one that needs him doing research on the Internet.
  • A good project is multi-disciplinary in nature. This means that it is able to cover several subject areas (for instance, a project regarding a particular war can look at how much is spent (mathematics), what happened according to various points of view (language arts, reading and research) and providing the design for the presentation (arts).

Basing project on the curriculum
To help you program projects for the month or semester, you can take a look at your child's curriculum. For instance, at The American Academy, you can look at the more than 100 online high school courses to see which ones your child will have for a particular semester. As such, you can determine the high school credits your child needs to earn, as well as what projects, activities and experiments can be helpful. By the time your child has earned his high school diploma online, he should have had several completed projects in his belt.
The American Academy provides your child with 50 minutes of professional tutoring where you can also ask the tutor for project suggestions. The American Academy is an accredited online high school that provides quality lessons available via the Internet. With the program, your child can graduate high school or earn credits to be applied for the next school year.