Welcome to the eighth post in the Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Styles series! Click here to view the rest of the series.

The Ultimate Guide to Project-Based Homeschooling - Fearless Homeschool

Project-based homeschooling is based on the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy. The philosophy developed in the city of Reggio Emilia in Italy after World War 2, with the work of Loris Malaguzzi, a psychologist. Still popular in schools, it is usually limited to preschool and primary school ages.


It is less a method than an approach or philosophy. There’s no prescribed curriculum, or materials, or developmental expectations. You can’t train specifically to be a Reggio teacher, and anyone can use the term Reggio Emilia as there is no accrediting body.


Project-based homeschooling essentially brings Reggio Emilia into the home, and is suitable for all ages. It was popularised by Lori Pickert, former owner / director of a Reggio school, and homeschooling mum.

Rather than expecting children to seek out a balanced life all on their own, we can help them live it. We can create an everyday life that prioritizes what we value most. We can help our children grow up experiencing creativity, inquiry, and making ideas happen as part of their normal, everyday life, from their earliest days. Lori Pickert quote featured on Fearless Homeschooling.

Project-based homeschooling is child directed and child managed. This means the child takes all the responsibility for their project and their learning. As a parent, you must resist the urge to step in and be ‘helpful’! The child decides what it is they’d like to learn about. They choose the resources. They decide on the format, length, and direction of their learning. They do the work. Similar to unit studies, projects incorporate many skills across the curriculum. Learning is complex and layered, and deep. Most projects will incorporate all of the major learning areas, simply because real-life learning cannot be divided neatly into subject boxes.

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So what do you, the parent, do? Much like unschooling (which PBH works really well with) you facilitate and provide support. You help the child learn research skills, take them to places they need to go (library, historical sites etc.) and ensure they have the supplies and dedicated space they need. You provide an interested ear, and any help that is requested. Finally, you help them to prioritise their work, and show them that you believe it’s important and worthy.

Creativity becomes more visible when adults try to be more attentive to the cognitive processes of children than to the results they achieve in various fields of doing and understanding. - Loris Malaguzzi quote, related to Reggio Emilia / Project Based Homeschooling, featured on Fearless Homeschool.

Parents keep a detailed learning journal. This is an integral part of the method. From regular observation you note behaviour and actions, and record questions and interests. The journals provide a record of steps taken, questions asked, and parental observations. They enable the parent and the child to reflect on and discuss projects that have been done, and remind children of other interests and questions that they may have forgotten otherwise. They also show the child that their work is important, and worthy of your investment of time and attention.


Environment is extremely important. Great lighting, quality materials and suitable furnishings are essential. The space should be inviting and comfortable, encouraging your child to work on their projects. Your child must be able to easily access what they need, to feel secure in using the space, and not need to stress about making messes. Antique white tablecloths are out! Bulletin boards and galleries can help to provide reminders of their work and make it central.


Unlike virtually every other method, Project-Based Homeschooling doesn’t promote itself as the one and only. If all you want to do is PBH that’s great. If not, set curriculum or activities from other methods can easily be done alongside projects. The PBH’s won’t kick you out, or tell you you’re not ‘really’ doing Project-Based Homeschooling.

Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning and how to learn. - Loris Malaguzzi quote about Reggio Emilia / Project-Based Homeschooling, featured on Fearless Homeschool.

The good points

  • It’s very much child-led and child-centred
  • Encourages deep, complex learning
  • Children learn how to follow their interests in a purposeful, meaningful way
  • There’s no complexity or dogma, which is refreshing. Project-Based Homeschooling focuses on the child and how they learn, without making it overly complicated or requiring you to adopt a set of beliefs or values that may not match your family.

The not-so-good points

  • This might sound strange, but I’m having a lot of trouble finding any complaints. The only problems people seem to have about Reggio Emilia or Project-Based Homeschooling is that it’s impossible to plan. If your area requires you to register for homeschooling by submitting a learning plan you may need to organise more school-like resources to do done alongside PBH. But it allows for that, so there’s no real issue.
  • As it is much less formal and prescribed, parents (and children) who like to know exactly what they are expected to do next may have trouble adjusting.
Observe and listen to children because when they ask “why?” they are not simply asking for the answer from you. They are requesting the courage to find a collection of possible answers – Carla Rinaldi Reggio Emilia / Project-Based Homeschooling quote featured on Fearless Homeschool.

Further resources

Project-Based Homeschooling : Mentoring Self-Directed Learners – Lori Pickert

The must-have book if you’re interested in Project-Based Homeschooling


Camp Creek Blog is where Lori Pickert writes, and it’s chock-a-block full of useful and inspiring information, plus a forum. You can also do a masterclass.


Read more about homeschooling journals.


Check out the PBH kids tumblr account for a sample of real projects completed by PBH kids


Bringing Reggio Emilia Home: An Innovative Approach to Early Childhood Education – Louise Boyd Cadwell


The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation – Edwards, Gandini and Forman (Editors)


Also, take a look at my Project-Based Homeschooling Pinterest board to discover fantastic resources that will help you set up your own Project-Based Homeschool.

Follow Kelly | Fearless Homechool’s board Project-Based Homeschooling on Pinterest.

Follow Fearless Homeschool for more fantastic homeschooling info
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