One of the many things I love about project-based learning is that it can fit into any homeschool style. This term I have a much more relaxed approach to curriculum – I’m using it as the tool I always intended it to be, instead of being a slave to it – leaving a bigger space for more natural, child-led learning.
The Call of the Familiar (it’s Easiest to Do What You’ve Always Done)
But starting something new – no, sticking with something new – takes commitment. Now that our intense start-of-term enthusiasm has subsided, cold viruses are doing the rounds, and wet weather has kept us indoors for days at a time, there have been mornings when it’s felt so tempting just to snuggle up with the children for quiet English, maths and read alouds. It’s not that I don’t love seeing the children caught up in a wave of passionate creativity; it’s just that the lure of the familiar, the comfortable path of doing what we know, is sometimes hard to resist.
“Big Rocks” Time Management
In his book You Can Have What You Want, supercoach Michael Neill tells this story about a seminar leader who placed a large jar on the table.
By the side of the jar he placed a bucket of gravel, a bucket of sand, a bucket of water, and three big rocks. He then challenged his participants to find a way to fit everything on the table into the jar.
After numerous attempts, it became clear that the only way to fit everything in was to start with the big rocks first. The gravel filled the space between the big rocks, the sand filled the gaps in the gravel, and the water filled the gaps between the sand.
When it comes to what we choose to make important, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the daily gravel, ground down by the sand, and swept away by the water. What can be tricky is finding ways to prioritize the ‘big rocks’ – those things in your life that matter most.
Over the summer (using a fantastic process I’ll share in another post) I identified what are the biggest “rocks” that I want to fit into my life. One “rock” was doing more natural (interest and child-led) learning with my children, and project-based homeschooling has been the perfect way to do this. Of course maths and English are important, but (I’m happy to say) doing them has become a comfortable habit – they get done easily without needing to be prioritized.
How to Prioritize Something
Michael Neill suggests that there are three ways of prioritizing something: (1) Do it first (2) Do it now (3) Do it often. Common sense, but a good reminder nonetheless.
And that is how, as well as practising multi-digit subtraction and discussing the beautiful metaphors in Where the Moon Meets the Mountain, last week Cordie experimented with home made light bulbs, and made kites and tepees from wood and hot glue, and Jasper began to learn computer programming with Scratch in between practising his spelling, handwriting, and learning about the differences between rhombuses and trapeziums. 🙂
What are your big rocks?
5 thoughts on “Big Rocks Homeschooling – How to Prioritize What’s Important”
I have six kids (I homeschool five of them) and my 12-year-old is still quietly lamenting the fact that she is no longer in the charter school she attended for two years. Her teacher, Mr. Pedlowe, was wonderful and utilized lots of creative ideas. I want her to be just as excited about school at home as she was in his class. It’s tough, but you have inspired me! Thanks so much.
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Marla – you’ve inspired me to take the time to comment on the blogs that inspire me, it really makes a difference 🙂 It sounds like your 12-year-old has been really lucky to have had a wonderful school teacher and now to have a mum committed to bringing homeschooling alive!
Totally inspiring! X
Thank you, lovely! Michael Neill rocks, eh?