Both of these one-week, self-guided e-classes are now available for instant enrollment here. Enjoy!

I can’t thank you enough for this class! It’s so much more than a journaling class. The advice I learnt on setting goals and creating habits is priceless and I will be applying it to every aspect of my life from here on out! — Breonna

I think that Lori’s drawing class has been one of the most powerful and useful resources that we have used in our many years of home education. — Petra

PBH Master Class enrolling now!

Published by Lori Pickert on August 14, 2014 at 07:59 AM

We are now enrolling the fall session of the PBH master class. It will run for six weeks from September 8 through October 17 and costs $125. Please go here to read the class description, testimonials from former students, and enroll if you are interested!

I probably won’t schedule another master class until sometime next spring (April/May). If you can’t join us this time, you can join the early-bird announcement list for that class.

Thank you and I hope we get to work together!

After rereading the last two emails, I have to tell you how remarkable this class is. My growth is measured in leaps and bounds already. I am in the midst of completely evolving our home education. Life learning has ever been my goal. Thank you for the tools. — Stephanie

• • •

I feel so much more confident and hopeful and like I am making progress and moving forward after taking the PBH Master Class. This is the ultimate “How To” with an amazing mentor by your side. — Alice

• • •

This class is outstanding. It takes the PBH principles and ideas from Lori’s book and blog and helps you make them real. Real, authentic learning and co-learning, journaling, reflecting, deep thinking, self-directing, culture-building, environment-tweaking, mentoring, creating, making, and doing. The class really drove home for me how flexible and forgiving, yet sturdy and hearty, PBH is. It has helped me commit to my own meaningful work and to begin creating habits, a family culture, and an environment that will help my kids do the same. — Tana

• • •

The class was so much more and better than what I had even hoped for and wished to gain. — Audra

Read more testimonials here.


PBH Facebook group

Published by Lori Pickert on July 31, 2014 at 08:13 AM

Heck has frozen over, pigs are flying, and I’m back on the Facebook so we could have a PBH Facebook group — check it out here!


We are getting ready for our second free PBH class of the summer!

There are many great reasons to add drawing to your routine — here are just a few:

• Drawing is a foundational skill for making and a great way for prewriters to take and read their own notes.

• Learning how to draw observationally can help kids make it past the dreaded fourth-grade slump.

• Learning to look deeply and observe carefully is a great critical thinking skill and often leads to asking the interesting questions that launch project-based research.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to integrate drawing into your project-based learning, join us!

Class starts on Monday — go here to sign up!

As a primary visual language, essential for communication and expression, drawing is as important as the development of written and verbal skills. — Anita Taylor, Why Drawing Needs to Be a Curriculum Essential



New resources on the site — enjoy!

Published by Lori Pickert on June 1, 2014 at 12:14 PM

We have some new resources here on the site:

Resource section — We’ve started to build out a huge collection of PBH and general learning-related resources for you to browse here. I will be updating this (LOTS more to add) so check back once in awhile. 

Journal Gallery — PBHers have shared photos of all kinds of PBH journals to help you think about the system that would work best for you. Check it out. (I’ll be adding to this one, too — some digital PBH journals are next!)

Workspace Gallery — Browse this collection of different PBH studios and workspaces from all kinds of homes. We even have some PBH group spaces. Inspiring!

Passion and Meaningful Work — We are continually adding to this collection of quotes that show deep interests DO matter when it comes to finding and doing your meaningful work.

Don’t forget these existing resources:

How to Start a PBH Group — Are you interested in starting a homeschool family project group, co-op class, summer camp, or just moving an existing group in a more project-oriented direction? Check out our free guide to starting a PBH group.

The Introvert’s Guide to Building Community — It’s not just for introverts. To make sure you start out on the right foot, read this solid advice for beta-testing and launching a new community.

What to Look for in a DIY/Maker/Hacker/Tinkering Group for Kids — This checklist will help you identify the best groups for self-directed learners — and avoid the people who aren’t walking the talk.

Ten Steps to Getting Started with Project-Based Homeschooling — If you have friends or family who are interested in learning more about PBH or self-directed learning, this is where you can point them.


Summer PBH Master Class and Seminar enrolling NOW!

Published by Lori Pickert on May 28, 2014 at 08:13 AM

We are now enrolling the Summer Session of the PBH Master Class. It runs from June 23 through August 2 (six weeks) and costs $120. Please go here to read the class description and testimonials from former students. You may enroll here.

We’ve already done early-bird enrollment so space is limited!

If the timing isn’t right for you, you can join the early-bird announcement list for the next class. (No dates have yet been set.)

We are also enrolling the first Summer Seminar on Mentoring PBH Groups. It will be two weeks long and will run from August 4 through 16. It costs $75.

Please note you must have already taken the master class to take this seminar! You can dual enroll as long as space is available.

For more information and to enroll, please go here. If you would like to get on the early-bird list for next year’s class, you may do that here. If we repeat this seminar it won’t be until next summer!

Questions about anything? E-mail me!

Thank you as always for your support!


Kindle matchbook: Project-Based Homeschooling

Published by Lori Pickert on March 10, 2014 at 03:59 PM

Photo by Kara Fleck! Thank you, Kara!

If you bought the paperback version of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners from Amazon, you can now get the Kindle version for just $2.99. PBH on the go!


Launching: PBH Tip Sheet

Published by Lori Pickert on October 25, 2013 at 02:41 PM

Once you resolve to make a change and set yourself on a new learning and doing path, you need to build a structure to help you touch base regularly with your goals and intentions. You have to commit (and recommit regularly) — and you have to follow through. This is a little bit of structure we’ve built for you. Check it out.

Friday link round-up + announcement

Published by Lori Pickert on June 14, 2013 at 08:31 AM

If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves. — Thomas Edison

First, the announcement:

PBH Master Class

In July I’ll be teaching a PBH Master Class. For six weeks, we’ll be reading selections from the book along with supplementary readings and new material I’ve prepared just for this class.

I’ll be leading and supporting class members in a deeper exploration of the key elements of this approach and helping you put these ideas into immediate practice.

This class is not only for homeschoolers — it’s for any parent (or teacher) who is interested in supporting children’s interests and helping them become active thinkers, learners, makers, and doers. Please share the word if you think someone might be interested or helped by this class!

You’ll also have the chance to make some like-minded friends who have the same goals and values for learning and supporting children. We’ll have a private forum where class participants can discuss each week’s focus and share questions, ideas, and issues. This forum will stay up after the class is over so you can stay in touch with your cohort and keep learning together and supporting one another.

I hope to have the sign-up page ready early next week. If you are interested and would like to receive the e-mail alert, please sign up here.

Thank you!

And now, this week on Facebook

One of the best things I saw this week was this short video about creativity versus looking for a particular answer. It’s well worth a couple minutes of your time.

Even when adults are trying to set up a situation where kids can be creative, if children get a hint that they are hoping they do something in particular, it will squelch their creativity. The children start trying to please the adults rather than freely making and building and having their own ideas. This video is a beautiful example of what can happen when we back off and drop our own ideas in favor of theirs.

I loved this post about children needing purpose in their work, which is the heart of PBH:

[S]tudents today may be high achievers but they have no idea what for. … [They] need to find a purpose in life — something meaningful to themselves that also serves the greater good. …

In a series of studies of over 1,200 youth ages 12 to 26, Damon found that those who were actively pursuing a clear purpose reaped tremendous benefits that were both immediate and that could also last a lifetime.

[I]mmediate benefits included extra positive energy that not only kept students motivated, but also helped them acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue their purpose, making them very strong learners.

Youth with a strong sense of purpose also benefited from positive emotions such as gratitude, self-confidence, optimism and a deep sense of fulfillment — all of which scientists have found help prevent depression and anxiety.

Students who carry this sense of purpose into adulthood may also benefit in the long run. Research shows that adults who feel their lives have meaning and purpose are happier, more successful at work, and maintain stronger relationships.” — Putting the “Awe” Back in “Awesome” — Helping Students Develop Purpose @ Edutopia

The sharing part of PBH taps directly into this. Connecting with their community and making a real contribution = purpose.

And this is so much easier to accomplish at home where kids can work on a project that is authentically meaningful and engaging to them!

Heather wrote a great post about mentoring your child to sew if you yourself don’t sew. She does a great job of outlining how any parent can be a supportive mentor in an area where they may not be particularly skilled:

“You might choose to learn with your child or you can help make it happen. Being a mentor means being a guide to something your child wants to learn. The great thing in this situation is that your child is coming to you with an interest. Just think of the intrinsic interest and motivation already at play! …

Remember that if you want your student to be in control and to lead the way in her endeavor to learn to sew, then the materials she needs for the job need to be at the ready. …Workspace is about making the project/learning activity accessible. I could make a long list of things my kids have ownership over in their learning and all of them involve us relinquishing control over workspace. We’ve worked to carve out spots for our kids to engage in what matters the most to them.” — Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool (Whether or Not You Sew!) @ Blog She Wrote

She really gets into fine detail about environment, materials, and so on, so definitely check it out — you can apply the same ideas to any interest!

More and more people are stating the opinion that every kid needs to learn how to code. I really liked this article saying coding isn’t a golden ticket if kids can’t write — because writing is an essential skill to really succeed in business:

“Computer programming gets great press. … [Y]oung people have long been counseled on the advantages of learning how to program. … [Y]et, when I visit software companies, I often notice that the most successful employees aren’t necessarily the best coders. Instead, leaders in the software business are usually pretty good coders who also happen to be fantastic communicators. …

Whatever you do in the new economy, wherever you go, you’re going to be called upon to write. And the better you write — the more succinctly and confidently you wield language on the page — the more you’ll stand out. If you want to succeed, then, write. Learn to write, and practice every single day. …

Writing is really just a formalized way of thinking. Writing turns all those ideas that are flitting about your brain into a coherent picture of the world. That’s why you can’t ignore writing; in the modern economy, how well you write will often be taken as a proxy for how well you think.” — Class of 2013: Learn to write code. Sure. But really, learn to write.

As a person who’s been self-employed since college, I would add that writing is an essential skill for everyone, not just graduates seeking a job. If you can’t write a clear cover letter and resumé, your paperwork hits the circular file. But it was just as important for me to be able to communicate clearly to clients (and potential clients). How you write = how you present yourself to the world. The more we rely on the computer to do business, the less it’s about face-to-face contact and the more it’s about the page and the screen. Today, you may never meet in person the people you work for or the people who work for you — they will know you by your writing.

On the flip side, an interesting article from NPR about high school students reading less and less challenging works:

"‘The complexity of texts [high school] students are being assigned to read,’ Stickney says, ‘has declined by about three grade levels over the past 100 years. A century ago, students were being assigned books with the complexity of around the ninth- or 10th-grade level. But in 2012, the average was around the sixth-grade level.

Reading leads to reading… It’s when kids stop reading, or never get started in the first place, that there's no chance of ever getting them hooked on more complex books.” — What Kids Are Reading, In School and Out @ NPR

Wow, this sparked a huge conversation on twitter. Some people really wanted to stand up for YA and MG literature and pointed out that story and theme are just as important as technical reading level, and kids are more likely to be deeply engaged and have good discussion around a book they actually enjoy and understand. I don’t think it’s an either-or issue and I stand by my conviction that kids should be exposed to more challenging works in school. What say you?

We had another big twitter discussion about library reading programs, of which, as you may remember, I am not a fan:

[I]t’s a shame to treat reading as a sort of punishment — or something that requires a spoonful of sugar to go down, which is why I’m a curmudgon about reading programs that bribe kids with prizes or pizza if they read. Reading isn’t punishment — reading is one of the greatest things ever. When we act this way, we are sending a clear message that reading isn’t awesome — it’s something that requires cajoling, bribery, or denial. — In defense of reading, which should need no defense

Librarians insist that these programs bring more kids in to the library and get more kids reading — but it’s the adults who are pulled in by the programs, right? So I suggest we stop offering the bribes to the kids and give out free Starbucks coupons to the parents. I think it could work.

A couple of PBH for Grown-Ups-style links…

I liked this brief article about finding ten minutes in your day for the thing that matters to you — they were specifically talking about meditating, but the same thinking holds for anything you wish you could fit into your day:

“When was the last time you took 10 minutes to do nothing?

We may tell ourselves we take an hour to relax every night while we watch our favourite TV show or reading that book you never seem to finish. The half an hour journey to work with music from our iPod crowding the senses is also a familiar activity we may call our ‘chill time’. But in reality, none of the above is still not doing ‘nothing’.” — I don’t have ten minutes @ Scrawl Media

We have to use the time we have and prioritize the things that really matter. Find ten minutes for your meaningful work!

In that same vein, I like this series they’re doing at WhipUp — the quote is for the whole series:

“Stop listening to the advice of those that say it can’t be done, and seek the advice of those who are successfully doing what you want to do.”

Every day I see bad advice on Twitter and cringe. Be choosy about whose advice you’re seeking. Make sure they know what they’re talking about. If you want real, useful advice, take the time to choose mentors (even online mentors or authors) who have experience and success to back up their words. Think about the motives of the people who are offering you advice.

Do they want to be an insta-expert? (They spent a few hours reading about a subject online and now they’re an expert themselves.)

Do they have puffy ego issues? (They love being asked for help so much, they offer it whether they know what they’re talking about or not.)

Are they mostly focused on making money? (Have they had a long-term interest in this topic or is it just a niche they want to exploit?)

There is no substitute for doing your own research. Take the time to go to the library and check out a few books. Even a modest amount of familiarity with a subject can help you spot some of the people who don’t have the real knowledge to back up their faux authority. Then read their about page and make sure they’ve walked the walk before they started talking the talk. You’ll save yourself a lot of wasted time and heartache.

Ooh, I got a little cranky there at the end! Thanks as always for your support of the PBH community! And don’t forget to sign up for the e-mail list if you are interested in the master class. Have a great weekend!

New PBH Kids blog + Friday link round-up

Published by Lori Pickert on April 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM

We’ve started a new blog sharing self-directed projects by kids of all ages: PBH Kids. We’ll be keeping this G-rated so kids can enjoy reading it, too. Be sure to check it out! If you would like to share some project work, e-mail me through the contact form. Enjoy!

This week on Facebook, some links discussing work and money. As self-employed people, my husband and I have made self-sufficiency and financial independence an important part of our family culture. One thing we discuss is the importance of knowing when you have enough:

What is wealth for? How much money do we need to lead a good life? This might seem an impossible question. But it is not a trivial one. Making money cannot be an end in itself — at least for anyone not suffering from acute mental disorder. To say that my purpose in life is to make more and more money is like saying that my aim in eating is to get fatter and fatter. And what is true of individuals is also true of societies. Making money cannot be the permanent business of humanity, for the simple reason that there is nothing to do with money except spend it. And we cannot just go on spending. There will come a point when we will be satiated or disgusted or both.” — In Praise of Leisure @ The Chronicle of Higher Education

I am reading a fantastic book called The Soul of Money, which I quoted on the PBH Facebook page:
“When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have.” — Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money
This fits right in with the PBH philosophy: focus on what’s working, and whatever you pay attention to will grow. Or as Lynne says in the book, “What you appreciate appreciates.”
Somewhat related, what is the number one piece of advice older people want to pass along to the younger generation? Don’t work a job you hate:
“You know those nightmares where you are shouting a warning but no sound comes out? Well, that’s the intensity with which the experts wanted to tell younger people that spending years in a job you dislike is a recipe for regret and a tragic mistake. There was no issue about which the experts were more adamant and forceful. Over and over they prefaced their comments with, “If there’s one thing I want your readers to know it’s…” From the vantage point of looking back over long experience, wasting around two thousand hours of irretrievable lifetime each year is pure idiocy.” — What is the single most important life lesson older people feel younger people need to know?
I don’t believe it’s ever too late to change your life (I’m not giving up on you grown-ups), but certainly our children have the opportunity to lay out a life plan that aims toward meaning and purpose. You can gift them with freedom and choice by helping them learn to appreciate what they have (see above) and know when they have enough (see above). And how to keep their costs down:

“The only thing you should have to do is find work you love to do. … [W]hat I always tell kids when they get out of class and ask, ‘What should I do now?’ I always say, ‘Keep a low overhead. You’re not going to make a lot of money.’ And the next thing I say: ‘Don’t live with a person who doesn’t respect your work.’ That's the most important thing — that’s more important than the money thing. I think those two things are very valuable pieces of information.” — Grace Paley

Keeping a low overhead is always good advice, I think. And again that goes back to knowing when you have enough, so you aren’t caught on that besting-the-Joneses hamster wheel.
A nice post on honoring your work space that harkens back to creating a supportive environment for your work:
When you respect your work, you want to create a beautiful, clean, sacred container for it. Regardless of the size, cost or fanciness of your physical space, treat it with reverence. Pay attention to what you bring into it. Take time to clean the floor and wash the windows. Surround yourself with images of beauty and inspiration. Give gratitude to the tools that you use to do your work, and to all the masters who have come before you.” — 10 Ways to Develop a Mastery Mindset @ Escape from Cubicle Nation
Another great quote from that post:

Set boundaries. You cannot create great work if you are in a constant state of reaction. You must protect your creative work time by blocking out your schedule, turning off your phone and closing down your email.  You must protect your creative energy by avoiding “life sucking squids,” as my friend Martha Beck calls people who only care about their own edification and not about your needs or soul. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can take advantage of you without your permission.” —  10 Ways to Develop a Mastery Mindset @ Escape from Cubicle Nation

Need more help with that? Check out How to give without being taken advantage of.
And our PBH-related posts for this week!
Michelle continues her great blog series about doing PBH with her daughters:
“[I]f you pay close attention and build the habit of writing down all of those little things they’re doing that don’t look like the typical definition of learning activities, you’ll start to see patterns or deeper skills and connections forming. You’ll see the face of authentic learning. Subjects they research begin to show up in their play, drawings, stories, and conversations. You’ll see them learning at a much deeper level than if they had just read a few pages in a textbook and answered some questions or wrote an awkward, forced essay. It’s real. It’s powerful. And it sticks.” — Project-Based Homeschooling Q&A: Documenting and Forward Motion @ Raising Cajuns
Beautiful. And Lindsay wrote a great post about doing PBH with preschoolers with her own list of essential things to remember:

Before implementing any ideas from project-based homeschooling (PBH), the “projects” we were doing were completely adult-directed, which Marlowe really likes. PBH helped me to see that projects that are child-chosen, child-directed, and child-managed are crucial as well. Marlowe often has ideas that we never get to (ie, I never get around to helping her make them happen) or that get started but fizzle right away once the next thing comes along. The book is overflowing with ideas for how to assist children in their projects in a thoughtful way, many of which I’ll modify for this early childhood time by taking a more subtle approach. — Project-Based Homeschooling: Simple Project Work with Preschoolers @ Song & Season

And Claire wrote about introducing her children to dedicated project time:


I know every day won't be like today, but oh if it could be...

We got our feet wet with this new concept of “project time” today. I had talked with the boys about the idea yesterday and their enthusiasm was so heartwarming. I did have to insist that we get our regular lessons done first, but they were happy enough with that (and even got all their work done before lunch!). After a short break, it was the much anticipated “project time” and they jumped into their work with gusto. — Our first day with “project time” @ Faith, Family and Life


Our thoughts are with Boston this week. Peace be with you all.

Be a part of the PBH community. Project-Based Homeschooling isn’t for only one kind of homeschooler — whether you’re a classicist or a radical unschooler or somewhere in-between, all kids deserve some time to direct and manage their own learning while pursuing their deepest interests. Read the posts on project-based homeschooling. Check out the book. Look over the 10 steps to getting started with PBH. Join the forum. Chat with me on twitter. Follow me on facebook. See my pinterest boards on learning, authentic art, play, and more. Come make friends, get some new ideas, and brainstorm about your challenges.

“You want to build a family culture that celebrates and supports meaningful work. This is much more than saying the right thing — this is creating a lifestyle, a set of articulated beliefs, and a  daily routine that encourage and sustain the life you want for your family.” — Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners


“I’m especially grateful for the shared experiences, questions, and suggestions in this forum. Already I have been able to think more creatively about some of our dilemmas and I think the idea of a tribe of families working on this makes it so much more interesting to me.” — from the PBH forum