Homeschoolers: Stop Doing Projects

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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.

Sometimes we’re doing projects for the wrong reasons.

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.

Are you a member of the *Homeschoolers Doing Projects For The Sake of Doing Projects* Club? Let's have a chat about that, shall we?
Me: But son, it’s such a cool project! Son: Meh.

Projects are awesome…if you understand the point.

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.

Are you a member of the *Homeschoolers Doing Projects For The Sake of Doing Projects* Club? Let's have a chat about that, shall we?

On the outside, a project can look educational, but I’m afraid that sometimes our homeschooling lives can turn into, “I have to find a cute project for this because how can my son possibly 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.

So many ways to learn, y’all. That’s part of the beauty of homeschooling, right?

So maybe if the project part of the learning is becoming stressful for the parents or the kids…perhaps stop, re-evaluate, and change it up?

Are you a member of the *Homeschoolers Doing Projects For The Sake of Doing Projects* Club? Let's have a chat about that, shall we?
Projects can be fun. They can also turn into an event. Be careful. 😉

Figure out who wants to do the projects. Assess often.

Listen. If your kids like to do crafts and projects, if that’s a passion that they’re really digging into, go for it. Absolutely run with it and don’t let anyone else stop you. We all know there are a plethora of amazingly awesome projects out there.

But please assess—and do this often—if it’s your kids who want to do the 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 show off what you did to the local homeschool co-op.

Are you a member of the *Homeschoolers Doing Projects For The Sake of Doing Projects* Club? Let's have a chat about that, shall we?

Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.


20 thoughts on “Homeschoolers: Stop Doing Projects”

  1. Since homeschool blogging became my new hobby, I’ve been overwhelmed at all the crafting we AREN’T doing. And I’m all about the art here. Guilty of finding reasons to cook strange foods and burn things just cause. But Iesee these posts about note booking where they’re making every spelling word out of glitter glue or legos. Do they do that every week? Shoot I can barely get my youngest to copy the list in cursive! We art, not craft. My little guy loves to art. Yesterday, he painted his first abstract. I can’t wait to post about it so everyone can get crazy thinking how they aren’t rating enough. 😉

    1. thehmmmschoolingmom

      Exactly! There is nothing wrong with projects because they CAN be really awesome. But when projects become something we do because we think that’s what we’re supposed to do….back up sister, let’s try this again. 🙂

  2. My boys are 11 & 13 and they still adore doing projects–I’ve just had to learn the art of making the projects grow with them. No more glitter, but plenty of ‘stone’ tablets with cuneiform messages and the like. And we’ve slowed way down on how often we craft. There’s a balance we sometimes forget to find when they’re young.

    1. thehmmmschoolingmom

      Agree. Unless your kids are really into them. But I think most kids outgrow them and sometimes moms hold on to them because they don’t know what to move on to. 🙂

  3. Haha. Very timely as I prepare to take my reluctant son to the homeschool project fair with the project he was less than thrilled to complete. I have vowed to not be the one to introduce projects into his homeschool journey ever again. If HE decides to do them, awesome. However, I have finally realized that he’d rather act out the war of 1812 than build a cake in the shape of Ft. McHenry. (thank goodness!)

  4. I’ve never liked projects much: not as a student and not as a mom. The amount of space, time, and effort just never seemed worth it. Plus, I’m the type who would rather get a potted rose (that makes it a couple months before I kill it) than a dozen roses and card I’ll feel guilty about tossing next week.
    Once more we need to reminded to never just do things because it’s popular, even in micro circles like ours. Thanks

  5. I love this SO MUCH. My kids only want to do real art or handicrafts projects that can be keepsakes or gifts. They’re 6 (my only boy!), 9, 10, and 15. My eldest NEVER wanted to cutesy crafts. I just recently threw out all the printables and we’re doing much more experiential learning now.

  6. I rarely comment on websites, but I had to on this one. I never had time for projects, etc. as I was a working Mama (outside the home) and also a homeschooler. I figured I was also a HOMEschooler, not a VANschooler. So, we buckled down with learning. But, I always felt so guilty not doing any fun projects (way to much time and mess). Now that I am older, my kids appreciate the fact we visited museums and attended concerts versus crafts. Not for everyone, I am sure, but it worked for our family.

    1. thehmmmschoolingmom

      Whatever works for your family, right? That’s what I go with. It just always makes me sad when people continue doing things that aren’t working for them because they think it’s the way it’s supposed to be. 🙁

  7. I’m not a crafty mom. My kids however are crafty kids, even the 12-year-old who had the paints out last night till bedtime (while her dad was out back doing a painting project of his own). I feel like I have to include crafts in our homeschool because the kids actually do learn from it and beg for it. If they did not, we would not go beyond the required middle school volcano project and early ed leaf display. I had decided early on we would not be a crafting homeschool family, only to find it was a central need in our kids’ lives. If it did not work and was not wanted, we would drop it immediately. I hope other moms, especially the newbies, feel this freedom to drop what does not work.

  8. fantastic post!

    crafts are right up there with dolls as incredible time wasters for children

    i love this line : “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!”

    if your kids are crafting, or playing with dolls, you could be doing something (countless somethings) FAR more productive!

    1. While I wouldn’t agree that all crafts and all dolls are always time wasters, I do think that a lot of homeschool parents are famous for using such things to a) appear more fun than public school, and/or b) fill a spot in their schedule. 🙂

  9. Agreed! Don’t do something for the sake of doing it. I’m FAR too left brained for projects anyway. Terrible at them. My kids, however, are right-brained artistic geniuses. They come up with their OWN projects and usually those don’t have a lot to do with what we’re learning. 😛

    You know what I *DO* love? Cooking our way through cultures and history. So that’s my one and only hands-on contribution to our homeschool.

  10. I was a “there must be a craft” mom for a while…. Then I realized that as a primarily AUDITORY learner, it was just my visual/kinisthetic self that wanted to do the projects. It was a sad day for me, but a glorious day for the “where the crap am I gonna put this” part of my brain.

  11. I so needed to read this. I decided not to enroll my 3 year old in Mother’s Day Out this year because we feel convicted to homeschool in the future and so suddenly I just wanted her home with me. I thought she would miss all the crafts and so I planned a whole bunch to do this year but the truth is they keep her busy for 5 seconds and I’m pretty sure that she would rather play “picnic party” with me every single time.

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