“Many adults, let alone children, stall in the information-gathering stage of a project. They keep collecting inspiration and ideas without ever moving forward to the point of making something of their own. Forget about finishing – they can’t start.”
Lori’s post is actually about the difference between good and bad persistence, and in particular how “you’re not teaching the kids persistence forcing them to complete something *you* want them to do.” But the quote about not being able to start totally resonated with me (in quite an uncomfortable way!) when I first read it in her book, and one of the many beautiful and unexpected benefits I’m getting out of project-based homeschooling is that my kids – unhampered by years of formal schooling – are showing me how to start!
Since I’ve let go of trying to control every aspect of the learning process, something magical has happened around here. My kids are learning so much more! Cordie (8) has always been an independent self-starter, so it’s in Jasper (7) that I’m noticing the biggest changes. We have lots of creating space around our home but it wasn’t until I read Project-Based Homeschooling that it occurred to me that Jasper didn’t have his own desk space in our main living area. We have a large craft desk but that has pretty much been colonised by his prolifically-creative big sister, whereas Jasper had made his own a tiny table housing our desktop computer and – guess what – he wanted to spend all his time on the computer!
As part of our reorganization he has his own desk and – wow! – is he using it. He’s initiated and completed more creative and science mini-projects this week than I would probably have got round to doing in a month (term??)! All thanks to that little space of his own and the magical power of “project-time”. I think the highlight of my week was when he sighed contentedly in the bath one evening and told me, “when I grow up I want to be a scientist (and a quadrillionaire)” – the millionaire/quadrillionaire bit always comes up, but this was the first time I’d heard Jasper talk about wanting to do anything apart from design/test computer games. Not that I have anything against him working in games, but it made my heart sing to think that he’s beginning to like science (anything!) as much as he enjoys computer games!
Here’s what my children have taught me this week about “starting”: don’t over-think, over-plan, wait for the perfect moment or worry about the mess – just do it! And when you do, you learn heaps, have stacks of fun, and – when you’re surfing a wave of authentic, happy enthusiasm – the preparation and clearing up doesn’t take nearly as long as you thought it would. 🙂