Project-Based Learning: What Parents Need to know

When it comes to your child's education, you want what is best for them (of course!). You may or may not have heard of project-based learning, but it's something you should be aware of and, hopefully, work to incorporate more into your local schools.

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Project-based learning is a type of teaching that emphasizes real-world problem-solving.

This means that instead of simply memorizing facts, children learn by doing.

You should know that project-based learning has improved critical thinking and problem-solving skills and provided a more well-rounded education overall.

Two children looking at a smart phone documenting images for a school project.

What exactly is Project-Based Learning (PBL)?

Project Based Learning (PBL) is an innovative approach to educating children. Instead of following a traditional curriculum that dictates exactly what and how children will learn, PBL immerses children in educational experiences that allow them to think critically and solve real-world problems.

Through this learning method, students gain important skills such as collaboration, communication, and the ability to work independently. Project-based learning also helps build confidence by enabling students to create relevant solutions for real tasks..

As a result, PBL provides students with a focused but flexible way of learning that encourages them to think outside the box and apply their newfound skills beyond the classroom.

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Why is PBL important for kids?

Project-based learning is an invaluable educational tool used in schools to promote active student engagement with the material.

It encourages out-of-the-box thinking and allows students to develop problem-solving skills, a sense of collaboration, and a deeper understanding of whatever content they are studying.

With PBL, kids can explore the real-life application of concepts previously taught in the classroom. Engaging students on a deeper level allows them to experience an interactive learning style where their creativity is recognized and rewarded.

This learning builds self-confidence because children are encouraged to formulate their answers instead of accepting pre-approved ones already available. Ultimately, this helps children with the necessary elements for development into competent and competent thinkers (not just passive learners!).

Is project-based learning effective?

It's no secret that children learn differently today than ever (hello, technology!)

Project-based learning has emerged as a popular educational method for engaging children and helping them to master key concepts in a more meaningful way that sticks.

All parents are looking to ensure their children get the most out of their education – but is project-based learning an effective strategy?

Studies suggest that project-based learning has a higher success rate than traditional classroom teaching approaches.

How does project-based learning help students?

Project-based learning will allow children to develop important skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving as they create complex projects.

The reason is that project-based learning truly engages the child vs. a more passive traditional approach.

It's also a process that is highly personalized – with students working in teams and performing real-world activities to learn important skills and knowledge. So this allows the teacher to tap into what each child needs and support them along the learning journey.

By taking ownership of the learning process, students become highly motivated and better retain the knowledge they acquire from their project work.

Why do we need PBL?

Children are natural learners, curious about the world around them. The deeply personal connections that happen through Project Based Learning are long-lasting. Success in this realm encourages competence and confidence in the learner.

Why is there such a personal connection? Because the student is driving the learning! Engagement is key in learning. When a student is engaged and interested, he learns much easier. This engagement drives the whole process and keeps the student interested in the project's duration.

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What Kind of Projects Work for PBL?

There are many projects through which a child can, with adult guidance, learn a great deal about real-world problems. Here are some ideas.

The Environment

Countless problems currently plague our environment, making environmental issues very interesting to learners. A great question to explore might be how humans can improve the health of bees.


Money makes the world go 'round, right? It's an integral part of most of our lives, so it matters to children, too. PBL on starting a small business in a poor neighborhood would be engaging and relevant.

Health and Wellness

Another problem we're facing is a health crisis brought on by obesity – an issue for children and adults. Creating a health fair would be a perfect project for learning more about the many aspects of health and wellness.

parent sitting next to computer with child supporting their project-based learning

How can parents support their children in PBL projects?

The key is communication – by creating a dialogue with your child (and the teacher if they are young enough to need more support), you'll be able to understand the project goals.

But make sure that you aren't getting too involved. Children need space to figure things out (yes, even in the younger years!)

When parents listen to their children and show interest in their projects, they are empowered to take ownership of their learning process.

What project-based learning is not

Beware of letting popular misconceptions fool you – project-based learning has nothing to do with assigning busy work or primarily working alone.

This particular approach should not encourage rushing through content for performance on a test but rather encourage active student involvement in deep learning experiences.

Each project is guided by expertly chosen topics that place pupils in positions to think widely, incorporate creativity, solve unexpected problems, and present solutions while better understanding their subject matter.

What are some common questions about PBL that parents have?

Navigating the classroom environment is an important job. So you may have some common questions about PBL – such as how it works, how it affects grading, or what skills their children are developing in a PBL environment.

These are all questions best answered by your child's teacher–as each teacher will have their own set of grading standards and classroom procedures.

It's important for you to understand this type of learning so you can partner with your kids in the learning process.

Project-based learning vs. problem-based learning

Project-based and problem-based learning are types of active, hands-on learning requiring critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving.

In project-based learning, the students are presented with a broad topic or challenge to explore and research. During their investigations, they will assemble and apply their knowledge to the project, eventually creating a final product or presentation.

Problem-based learning focuses more on an individual’s problem-solving abilities. It requires students to identify problems, think critically about how to address them, develop plans of action, generate solutions and evaluate their effectiveness.

Project-based and problem-based learning can provide parents with stimulating opportunities for their children to actively engage in their education as it encourages them to take ownership of their success by relying on skill sets beyond factual memorization.

Project-based learning vs. traditional learning

Project-based learning is a much more innovative approach to education that focuses on student-centered learning, incorporates real-world problems, and honors your children’s talents and interests.

In contrast, traditional education relies heavily on memorization, teaching to pass a test, science labs focused on replicating experiments, and lectures for acquiring knowledge without questioning.

With PBL, the goal is not only to understand the material but to solve a problem, which encourages students to think deeply and create their own plan of understanding the content.

Projects also help children develop confidence in their ability to work through challenges independently.

Project-based learning is going to do a much better job of preparing your child for careers that require competitive skills such as collaboration, problem-solving, communication, and creativity – things often not taught in a traditional classroom setting.

You play an important role in supporting your children's learning, especially when it comes to project-based learning. There are a few key things that you can do to help your children be successful in PBL:

1. Make sure they stay true to their own passions

2. Encourage them to ask questions and be curious

3. Teach them how to persevere through challenges

4. Help them reflect on their learning process

Project-based learning is a great way for kids to learn, and we must promote more innovative learning approaches in today's classrooms!

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