A common complaint from moms about homeschooling as kids get older is that homeschooling gets harder.
But maybe it’s not that it gets harder. Maybe it’s actually just that the cutesy projects disappear. You know, the ones you’re always looking for to enhance your learning or take the lesson further. The ones you can find on Pinterest within .002 seconds of feverishly typing “solar system” or “Titanic” or “Ottoman Empire”.
You know you’ve done it. We’ve all done it. But here’s the problem.
Somewhere along the line, we became a society of Homeschoolers Making A Project For The Sake Of Making A Project. (I would blame it partially on social media and blogging, because I need to have something to show you!) Now, I don’t know how much you have already spent on brass fasteners, glitter glue, or air dry clay, but I’m here to tell you that eventually that train ‘o crafty fun is going to pass you by.
I remember the exact moment I realized we’d reached a point where many of our projects were not only a waste of time and money, but space as well. That was the day my son (maybe 9 at the time) looked at me and asked “Why are we doing this?” And when I explained that hands on learning was fun and it would deepen his knowledge about the topic we were learning, he said, “But where am I going to put it when we’re done? It’s just going to end up in the garbage. Right?”
Homeschooled kids are sooooo smart.
Crafts and projects in and of themselves aren’t bad. In fact, we still do big projects occasionally. We’re just more intentional about them. We don’t plan projects just to have projects to do. Yes, I know there is “learning in the process”, but I don’t think that all projects make a child “remember more” or “deepen their understanding”. In fact, I would go so far to blurt out that sometimes I think the projects (!) projects (!!) and projects (!!!) thing is actually a homeschool parent trying to fill their kid’s time with something that “doesn’t look like public school because look at all the FUN stuff we’re doing!”
Y’all, stop doing this.
On the outside it might look educational, but I’m afraid that it’s really just turning our lives into “I have to find a cute project for this because how will he understand the westward expansion if we just read about it??” I get that hands-on education can be another way to connect kids to what they are learning about, but there are many ways to learn. And if the learning is becoming stressful for the parents or the kids…maybe stop, re-evaluate, and change it up?
Listen. If your kids like to do crafts and projects, if that’s a passion that they’re really digging into, go for it. We all know there are a plethora of amazingly awesome projects out there. How this all works for you is going to depend on your kids. But please assess (and do this often) if it’s your kids who want to make the crafty project, or if it’s just an excuse for Mom to go to the local craft store and buy stuff, make stuff, take a super sweet picture of the kids with said stuff, and then pen a viral blog post about it.