Homeschooling offers families a lot of flexibility – what to focus on, how to structure the day, and where to learn. Learning looks different for every family, but the goal is always to support kids in exploring new interests and developing enduring passions. This is the kind of learning that inspires us to build Primer.
When families shop for educational tools, they might approach their options by asking, “Which tool is going to teach my kids what they need to know?” But we designed Primer for a slightly different goal. We want to build a tool that lets kids own their learning journeys.
Taking kids seriously
We believe that kids who drive their learning build themselves an enduringly meaningful education that only they can get. At Primer, this belief leads us to give kids agency over what they learn and do. We help kids unlock the power they have over their learning by creating ways for them to take their education as seriously as we do, starting with Primer’s design and content.
Primer consists of interest-based clubs that connect academic lessons to the real world through projects that kids explore on their own or with their families. These projects include writing fables, building machines, coding video games, and building animal habitats fit for local critters. When families join Primer, parents can help their kids select clubs based on a combination of interests and growth areas, or kids can choose freely for themselves.
We help families choose their clubs by letting newcomers browse club activity from other kids and surfacing each club’s projects in the Parent Dashboard. Whether kids pick one club or all of them at once, they can join and leave clubs as their interests grow and shift – this is our way of entrusting kids with the options to sustain enduring interests or know when they need to take on new challenges.
Within clubs, kids complete projects that connect their interests to concrete action. Kids choose their projects from a gallery of options or by following another kid’s lead, carving unique paths through their interests at a pace and level of difficulty that they’re happy with. Of course, parents know their kids best, and they might find they need to adjust projects to suit their kids’ unique developmental needs and skills.
We provide a few levers for customization in Family Tips, which are project notes from our Education Team to parents that build context and flexibility around projects. Parents and kids can decide whether they want to move through a project quickly or expand it into a long-term effort.
Ingraining curiosity and creativity into culture
Like many other education companies, we could have chosen to produce projects around specific interests or academic subjects and offer it as a standalone curriculum. Here are some of the reasons we decided to anchor our curriculum in clubs.
- Kids know they have an audience. We make sure that kids can expect to feel seen when they share work that they’re genuinely proud of with their peers and mentors. An audience’s presence can motivate a kid to follow through the end of a challenging project. Or it can be the impetus to make an extra effort so that their friends and mentors will enjoy reading, watching, or playing what they made.
- Curiosity is cultural. Clubs are social settings where cultures of wondering can flourish and strengthen the learning process for individual kids. By asking questions in clubs, kids learn to ask great questions and creating more opportunities to bond over shared discoveries.
- Kids thrive off of creative encouragement from their peers. Creative encouragement can come from positive feedback on a project update, advice comments from a more experienced learner, or the constant reinforcement of seeing other kids persevere when their projects present unforeseen challenges.
- Kids learn to get help and give feedback. When kids get stuck or could benefit from advice on further explorations, they can pose questions to the club. Other kids can offer their thoughts, experiences, and suggestions. Both requesting and providing help kids build essential skills in taking initiative, communicating, solving problems, and building creative confidence.
By giving kids ways to foster a culture of discovery and investment in one another, clubs become spaces where kids can commit to the highs and lows of learning with confidence.
Making academics meaningful
As kids make memories, build on their progress, and witness their personal growth within clubs, creation, discovery, and even failure become meaningful parts of learning. As clubs and projects let kids form enduring passions, their academic foundations become personally meaningful, too. If a kid is identifying soil composition near their home, they understand the usefulness of percentages. If they get hooked on writing about a character they created, improving their grammar and spelling are natural steps in telling a better story. Family Tips help parents continue to convert their kids’ excitement into extra-focused learning of academic material.
Helping kids build enduring passions and motivating them to take command of their learning are two of our most urgent priorities. Still, we’re just beginning to uncover the full field of vision. At the moment, we’re supporting families by giving kids the materials and guidance they need to discover new, exciting topics. We’re helping parents as they guide their kids through learning. While we continue to hone the club experience, we will continue to develop new tools and experiences to support homeschooling families.
– Primer's Education Team