Holding the Parents’ Hand(book): a PBL Intro (by Ingrid Moon, iLEAD Facilitator)
You’ve probably heard enough about project-based learning (PBL) that it enticed you to give it a try. You heard from a friend how amazing the school program is, how their child has made a remarkable turnaround in academics and self-reliance, and how their kid wakes up every morning eager to go to school. Perhaps the traditional system just doesn’t seem to work for your child, and you want to try something different. Or perhaps you’re hearing on NPR and other media channels how our children need to learn 21st Century Skills in order to fit into the present and future economy.
Things I heard learners say in the first two weeks:
“This isn’t like any school I’ve ever been to!”
“I’ve never had so many friends before.”
“I love how we’re all weird in our own way!”
Whatever your reasons for coming to a project-based learning community, welcome! There is no learning experience quite like the creative, problem-solving adventures your learner is about to tackle. It’s truly the “school of lifelong learning.”
While many learners quickly adapt to the chaos, others take a longer time to make the transition from a traditional, structured, quiet environment to the lively, collaborative, and self-directed experience. That transition can takes months to years, but it does happen.
Parent: “What did you learn at school today?”
Universal Child: “I don’t know.”
Often it is the parents who face the most challenges in this transition. Parents are naturally concerned about the growth and well-being of their children. When a school discourages taking work home, or does not provide homework, it is often difficult for parents to see what their child is learning, and to gauge for themselves how well their child may be doing. On the other hand, they often count the blessings of not having to fight their children to do the homework.
I wrote this handbook to help parents understand the transition their children are going through, what the phases look like, and how to recognize the stage a child is in (and how to read through the b.s. they will inevitably give to you). I hope that in at least some small way this will help all parents feel more confident that their children ARE learning amazing things, ARE developing into amazing independent learners, and ARE going to survive this amazing growing experience.
Please click here to download a copy of the full handbook, which covers the following subjects:
Our Learning Community
- Grades vs. Learning
- Project-Based Learning
- Facilitators, Not Teachers
- Engaged Not (Necessarily) Compliant
- Cognitive Overload
- The Whole Child
- Individualized Learning Plans
The Transition to PBL
- Phase 1: Best School Ever
- Phase 2: Freedom!
- Phase 3: Take Me Back!
- Phase 4: I’ve Got This
Ingrid Moon, MBA, M.S.Ed., is a sixth-grade facilitator at iLEAD Encino, where she has taken responsibility for building a science department that includes modern STEM tools and skills, a STEAM lab for 3D printing and general tinkering, and an age-appropriate, highly accessible science library. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.