Homeschooling Imperfection at my house? Yes. Oh, yes.
I love homeschooling. Love it. But let me tell you, some moments aren’t warm and fuzzy. Homeschooling is life. Real life. And real life can be tough.
A messy house, piles of laundry and dishes, not knowing what we’ll eat for supper…at suppertime, a lawn begging to be mowed. And these only describe the household imperfections!
Children who whine about school work, lessons I forgot to prepare, appointments that break up our week, pieces of projects laying all over the house. I could go on and on. I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details because I have a feeling you might already know them. Am I right?
Focusing on all the imperfection seems to come naturally, doesn’t it? Why do we beat ourselves up so often over our failures?
I think I know. The thief. Yes, the thief.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ~John 10:10
The thief wants nothing more than to keep us frustrated, overwhelmed, grouchy and feeling like failures. Look at the second half of that verse again, though. Jesus came to give us Abundant Life. A life that is plentiful, even overly-sufficient. When we focus on the abundance He has provided, the importance of all those imperfections fades.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~Philippians 4:8
When the thief tries to pull my focus toward the imperfect, I choose to turn the other way and see the Abundant Life He provides daily. I CHOOSE.
How do I choose? When it’s hard to find the successes in the midst of perfection, I might:
- take a Bible and/or prayer break.
- look through old pictures (because the have captured the “good” times.)
- take a walk and praise God for His wonderful creation. My continual praises refresh my mind to “think about such things” when I get back home.
- pick one imperfect thing and make a plan to improve it.
- take a day to myself (because I sometimes feel like a frozen computer screen that needs to be rebooted!)
- do something fun with the kids to refresh all our attitudes.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:7
Peace. Doing these things brings fullness and peace to my heart – and the imperfections take their proper place.
Have you ever read Beyond Survival: A Guide to Abundant-Life Homeschooling or Reaping the Harvest: The Bounty of Abundant-Life Homeschooling (affiliate links) by Diana Waring? If you’re overwhelmed with the frustrations of homeschooling, these help put the good, bad and ugly in perspective.
I’m glad my homeschool is imperfect. Yes, I said “I’m glad.” It means Jesus is still working on me.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ~Philippians 1:6
This post contains affiliate links.
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It just so happens that I have written several books that utilize or teach about project-based learning. Because you stuck around with me through this entire 10 day series, I’d love to offer you any product of your choice for only $6.00 through May 15th! When you checkout, simply type in the code PROJECTS for your discount. (This only applies to the e-products published by Shining Dawn Books. Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners is published by Prufrock Press and not eligible for this discount.)
NaturExplorers studies are very versatile. They offer nature walks, hands-on projects and project-based learning ideas on more than 20 topics! Not to mention literature lists, artist and composer studies suggestions, poetry tie-ins and notebooking pages. Written with the 1st-8th grader in mind, there are additional ideas to include preschoolers and high school students. Oh, and co-ops, too!
Loving Living Math was written to help parents feel confident about incorporating more “real” math into the homeschool. Specific project-based learning ideas are included, as well and many other suggestions for rounding out a mathematics education. This book is appropriate for parents of any age student.
Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners includes an entire chapter on project-based learning as well as many other chapters to encourage parent-teachers of these special kids.
Other Great PBL Resources
Better Than Book Reports is book is full of great ideas for projects as they relate to literature. I’ve found the project ideas easily transferable to research/history/science topics as well. The following three are very similar to this one, but I’m finding that they are probably out-of-print. I’ve linked you to their webpages anyway since they can all still be purchased through Amazon new/used sellers.
Student Product Development & Evaluation was sent to me as a review product. Although not quite as visual, there are lots of very thorough ideas – especially project ideas for older children and teens. A large list of project ideas is given, with about 40 of those ideas fleshed out for you with book lists, websites and possible rubrics. This is not my favorite of the books I use for ideas, but it has it’s place, especially for the upper school years.
Easy File Folder Reports is simple for mom and children. Each topic has reproducible pages where your child fills out the papers during their research and attaches them to a file folder. Usually, a small hands-on project is suggested for a 3-dimensional addition to the report.
Feel free to add you most-used PBL resources in the comments!
Thank you for joining me during this series! Before too long, I plan to publish a book about PBL with much, much more detail and direction. Until then, go ahead and dive into PBL in your homeschool!
This post has been linked to iHN’s Spring Blog Hop. Be sure to click the graphic above to find other 10 Days Series by some of your favorite homeschool bloggers.
Help! I can’t think of project ideas!
Never fear, I have a huge list of ideas for you. Let your children be in on choosing the projects as often as possible. Since the project is supposed to be “theirs” anyway, helping to choose the project will go a long way in accomplishing this!
- Active Game
- Board Game
- Cereal Box Report
- Children’s Book
- Compare/Contrast Paper
- Comparison Poster
- Complete a Task
- Design a Puzzle
- Fictional Story
- File Folder Report
- Fix Something
- Game Show
- Historical Fiction
- Lesson for Younger Children
- Letter to the Editor
- Magazine Article
- Magic Act
- Newspaper Article
- Opinion Paper
- Paper Bag Report
- Personal Narrative
- Plan (Party, Shopping Trip, Chore Schedule, etc.)
- Poster Person
- Power Point
- Puppet Show
- Research Paper
- Scavenger Hunt
- Science Fair Board
- Service Project
- Show What You Know Any Way You Like
- Start a Business
I also have a Pinterest Board just full of Project-Based Learning Ideas.
Tomorrow is the last day of this series. I’ll share some of the best-of-the-best project-based resources I’ve come across over the years. Don’t miss it!
This post has been linked to iHN’s Spring Blog Hop. Be sure to click the graphic above to find other 10 Days series written by some of your favorite homeschool bloggers.
This post contains links to my business website, Shining Dawn Books. Read more about my disclosure policy here.
Project-based learning goes with any subject at just about any time. Really. Since nature study is so near and dear to my heart, I’ll take a little time today to show you how to take a regular ol’ walk and turn it into project-based learning.
Note: Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, turning a nature walk into PBL wouldn’t have been Ms. Mason’s cup of tea. Her nature study methods are based much more on simple, yet detailed observation and documentation. However, because her methods encourage a great deal of inquiry, I’ve found my children naturally crave to dive deeper into their discoveries. Projects have been a wonderful way to give my children a learning path on which to explore.
My NaturExplorers studies were written to celebrate both the traditional Charlotte Mason style of nature study and the inquiry-based exploration of project-based learning. Which ever style you prefer, any of the 19 studies can be perfect for you. You simply pick and choose what you and/or your children want to. A simple walk, nature journaling, in-depth walks, experimentation, creating models, designing research projects…
Project-Based Learning in Nature
Now, on to some practical examples of adding project-based learning to nature study:
- Let’s say you’ve come across a hill of active ants in your backyard. Your son is fascinated, making all kinds of observations and asking questions. LISTEN FOR QUESTIONS! Questions lead to inquiry-based learning, which is very easily turned into project-based learning. You say…
Honey, I just heard you ask about what ants like to eat best. How can we find out? Yes, let’s run into the house and gather a small bag of foods. (A few minutes later) How will we determine which foods they like best? OK, let’s place all the various foods around the ants’ paths and see which foods they flock to. Should we document this? How? Yes, good idea! We’ll draw pictures/make a graph/draw a diagram of what happens. Of course we can show dad the results when he gets home!
- Now, let’s suppose you are headed to the local arboretum. This time, you’ve planned ahead for the project and have packed a few supplies. After a few minutes of free exploration, you say…
I have a fun project for us to do today! Each one of us will create a scavenger hunt of nature related items in the arboretum. Then, we’ll exchange papers and see who is the first to complete the scavenger hunt they’ve been given.
Pull out clipboards, nature scavenger hunt printables and pencils. Set a time limit and boundary lines for creating the hunts, then race to the finish! This super-fun project encourages nature identification, attention to detail, critical thinking, writing and drawing, and physical exercise. Not bad for an hour in the sunshine, huh?
- One more. This one uses a nature walk to springboard an at-home project. On a nature walk through the local nature preserve, you notice several trees full of tent caterpillar webs. You and your daughter begin to notice that only certain trees house these tents. Your daughter is very interested in what will come out of these and you know that these little critters have the potential to cause major damage to the trees once they hatch. So, you say…
Honey, I’m not sure why these tents are only on certain trees or what exactly will come out of the webs soon. I do know, though, that these little creatures can do some damage. I have a great idea…why don’t we ditch regular writing and science lessons for the next two or three days so you have some time to research these caterpillars and put together a project to teach the rest of us about them?
I wrote an entire 10 Days of Nature Study Series that gives you TEN more ideas for nature walks and follow-up activities that you might like to read!
Don’t miss tomorrow! I’ll share a HUGE list of go-to project-based learning ideas!
This post has been linked to iHN’s Spring Blog Hop. Be sure to click on the graphic above to find 10 Days series by some of your favorite homeschool bloggers.