March 23, 2017
Encouraging Project Based Learning at Home
Any parent who chooses a project-based learning curriculum for their child is clearly invested in their education as it applies to their future. After all, the big idea behind project-based learning is to encourage students to acquire and apply information in an effective way.
Due to changes we have seen in our society over the years, these are by far the most useful skills a person could have in modern times. Having the bravery it takes to go against the grain and offer your child the opportunity to have an education that compliments modern times shows that you must care deeply.
Because you are clearly invested in your child's schooling, you are likely eager to ensure they are spending time in an environment that is most conducive to the project-based curriculum. This is great news because project-based education is not something that is done only during "school hours". Instead, it is an immersive experience and a way of life.
When considering the type of environment you want your child to learn in, the key factors to keep in mind are encouragement and freedom. The more of these a child has, the more likely he or she is to succeed at whatever they set their mind to.
That said, it is important to note that when we say a student should have ample freedom, it isn't to say they shouldn't have guidelines put in place. It also doesn't mean the child should be allowed to do whatever they please. What it does mean is that you should give your child the tools, time, and space needed to carry out their projects, both school-related and personal. It means you should give them freedom to explore their interests, take some risks, and learn from their mistakes.
So how do you offer encouragement and freedom to your student at home and in your life? Below are a few ideal ways to ensure your living space and your days are well-equipped to take on project-based learning and all of the adventures that come with it.
Give Your Child a Workspace
Everyone needs a studio in order to create their masterpieces. By giving your child a studio (i.e. a workspace of their own), you are handing them an amazing gift. This should be a space where they can carry out projects uninterrupted; where crafts and experiments can be left out during dinner; and, where important odds and ends can be left untouched until they return.
Clearly, a personal workspace is sacred and an incredibly important part of a project-based student's life.
Your student's personal workspace should include a variety of their most commonly used tools. It should be in an area where the child can work undisturbed, but still in a place where they will be drawn back into projects simply because they were walking by. The student should be allowed to keep the space as tidy or as messy as they see fit, and it should be recognized that the workspace is theirs to use however they please.
Always Have Tools On Hand
Just as the student's workspace should remain well-stocked with commonly used tools, the house should have a good supply of craft items such as paints, paint brushes, pipe cleaners, markers, paper, and glue. This ensures that supplies are on hand whenever a creative mood may strike.
Since these moods are often the best times for a person to absorb new knowledge and create something amazing, being prepared is crucial.
Take Frequent Trips to the Library
Nothing is quite as inspiring as a good book. On the other hand, books can also be a fantastic resource for learning about almost any subject. Therefore, frequent trips to the library should make it onto the agenda of every project-based scholar.
Other amazing things that are often offered by local libraries include audiobooks, educational videos, classes, and events (many of which are free). Take full advantage of these things by using them to add to and expand upon what your student is studying about in their schooling.
Encourage Community Involvement
Becoming more involved in the community around you has a whole host of benefits. For instance, when a student is involved in an activity that is focused on an area they've studied in the past, they will have the opportunity to apply what they know to real-world situations. This helps the child see just how useful education can be. On the other hand, a child who is involved in something completely unrelated to any past studies may find a new area of interest, something that is ideal for the project-based learning method.
Community involvement can also lead to finding mentors in a child's area of interest. Mentors are incredibly valuable to young scholars, and should be sought out whenever possible. These incredible individuals are almost always found when a child is willing to jump into an activity of interest.
Other benefits of community involvement include making new friends, practice working as part of a team, ownership of a larger project, the opportunity to step outside of one's comfort zone, and the good feeling that comes from making the world a better place.
Show Interest from a Distance
We all want to know what's going on in our kids' lives, and that's great. Showing interest in what your student is doing in school is an amazing way to offer encouragement. However, it is important to do this from a distance.
Pushing your way in on your child's project will take away their ownership of it, and likely their excitement as well. Therefore, it is ideal to simply ask questions in conversation, watch from across the room, and simply let your child be, unless he or she specifically asks for help.
The exception to this rule is when your student isn't keeping up with their schooling as well as they should. In this case, you may have to step in and address the issue.
By following these steps, you'll be well on your way to providing your child with the best project-based learning environment they could ask for. Of course, if you are ever unsure of anything you are doing at home, it's a good idea to ask your child's teacher what he or she thinks about the situation.