PROJECT BASED LEARNING
My dad used to tutor college math for fun... did I say "for fun" ? So naturally, before I was even five, my mum enlisted my dad to teach me basic math to be ready for kindergarten. Perhaps he didn't research what kindergartners are supposed to know. Because, we played games like, identify numbers up to 100. But he didn't stop there... he started tossing two bean bags on a floor mat with numbers 1 through 100 and expected me to add the two integers. When I got them right, I would be rewarded me with a piece of M&M. Maybe that is why I enjoy desserts so much, and yes, I continue to reward myself this way. Turns out this is not a good example of project based learning (PBL), but there are some things that you just need to drill into yourself so you have a foundation to work off of. Thank you dad for that solid foundation before I even started kindergarten!
According to my parents, there was a kindergarten readiness test I took at the end of my preschool year. Not surprisingly, they were quite impressed with my math skills and alphabet recognition skills. They did tell my parents that my motor skills are average at best. This is not because I was some super genius child. It was all because of memorization. Children can memorize anything when forced or given the opportunity to do so. The test administrator advised us that they either homeschool me or find a specialized school. Otherwise I would be bored and may become a distraction to others.
My parents chose to homeschool me. So naturally, my mum ordered a full worksheet based curriculum for me and did "school" at home diligently worksheets after worksheets. I think both my mum and I got burnt out before the end of the school year. She found a group of parents who taught everything through literature and switched gear to this style. This is the earliest form of PBL I can remember. So my education went from worksheets and pure memorization to learn by osmosis?? At least that's how I see it now that I am a high schooler. We read all kinds of books. Yes, there are books for absolutely any imaginable topics.
My mum and I have gone to many field trips. Bookstores and libraries were our family hangouts and it is still today. At home we did a lot of crafts and cooking when we were not reading or taking nature walks. With my dad, we did woodworking, science experiments, and how to start a fire. How to start a fire is listed separately because I loved it and just wanted to mention that! I love my dad!! We even made dinner on the fire that I started. This is how I spent my first eight years of schooling. Don't worry, I did learn something since I took standardized tests every year and I was always scored at level or above.
Last year was my more formal schooling after joining iLEAD Exploration, but this charter school embraces the same type of educational philosophy. They just have a fancy name for it called: Project Based Learning, I guess my "learning by osmosis" is not quite accurate. You learn all the concepts you need to learn by application. I do have subject areas with textbooks or books and I complete worksheets, quizzes and tests also. I had some form of application projects to each subject I studied. For example, once a week, I went and joined a group where we applied our knowledge of advanced circuitry by making a flashlight, fan, and motion detector to mention a few. Same thing applies to the other subjects. Different subjects also meddle together like this project of blogging and coming up with a business plan. In addition to this, I apply "The 7 habbits of Highly Effective Teens" which I will explain further in a future blog post if you are interested.