Summer is the perfect time to begin a delight directed learning experience, and it’s not nearly as complicated as you might think. There are two main questions to ask yourself, as you begin to find ways to apply this style of education to your summer activities.
What is it that delights your children?
How can you use those delights to inspire learning?
To get you started, we’ll take some of the classic summer activities and discuss ways to use them as a platform for higher learning. If you’ve been following this series, or reading Ben and Me for very long, you know that the basic theory behind this style of education is that when children are interested in a topic, it provides the opportunity to dig deeper and teach them to enjoy learning for it’s own sake. It helps to develop a lifestyle of learning that can follow them throughout their lifetime.
Classic Summer Activities and Delight Directed Learning
Swimming is a classic summer activity that provides opportunities for educating children which go far beyond the benefits of exercise. Swimming is an activity that obviously delights children, and anything that delights can be used to inspire. So, on the way to the pool, why not discuss what makes swimming possible? The muscles, for instance, and strong bones. Ask them to pay attention to which muscles they are using most. On the way home, do those muscles feel more tired than they did before the exercise? Later, you can look up those muscles. Identify how they are attached to the body – do a study on basic muscular structure. Cardio and vascular system, muscles and bones, the health effects of exercise – swimming can be a huge platform for learning more about the wonders of the human body. Just be sure that in between all that learning, the kids do plenty of swimming.
Sand Castles are an iconic summer image. Whether you build them in the back yard sand box, or manage a family trip to the beach – they can be used to inspire a delightful interest in castles and forts in history.
How have they been used historically to defend various settlements and countries? Choose one to read about, or do an in-depth study on castles in general. Be sure to look up pictures and make real life sand castle replicas. Perfection is not the goal here – delight is! If you won’t be visiting a beach and don’t have a sandbox, try this Kinetic Sand Castle Play Set (it’s much less messy anyway!).
Sea Shells and Ocean Animals are also reminiscent of summertime and can be used to provide hours of fun and delight . . . and learning. Take a trip to the beach and capture pictures and drawings of the animals you see. Collect sea shells to look at through a magnifying glass. Check out local turtle rescue centers, aquariums, or animals preservation centers to gather more information. Use Unit Studies, such as Wildlife Adventures to enjoy hands on projects and to further enrich the learning experience.
Ice cream is a yummy summer treat. How much fun would an ice cream unit study be? Check out these ideas from Year Round Homeschooling for doing a yummy and delightful ice cream study.
Birds, fireflies, frogs . . . enjoying the great outdoors together and taking time to notice God’s creatures is a valuable tool in any homeschool. It is a simple thing to take pictures sketch in a notebook or paint some of these creatures, but can go a long way towards inspiring delightful learning.
If you haven’t yet discovered the joy of notebooking and copywork for homeschooling – be sure to check out Homeschool Copywork and Notebooking Pages.com. Shining Dawn Books carries an entire line of nature-inspired unit studies that are full of great ideas for nature study and nature walks. Find everything you need for a great nature study kit in the article on Preparing Your Homeschool for Delight-directed Learning.
Night Skies are a beautiful and inspiring sight at any time of the year, but summer provides ample time to get out and enjoy them, or take a family camping trip! These days, it’s not terribly expensive to purchase a telescope to view them with, visit an observatory, try a Stars and Constellations Lapbook or even simply look up information online about the various stars and constellations. The Farmer’s Almanac provides some basic information that can make star gazing all that much more delightful. If you want a great handbook on classical astronomy (night sky gazing without a telescope), we highly recommend Signs and Seasons.
Sharks. Shark Week takes place in the beginning of July, but can inspire a whole summer . . . or a whole year of learning. Check out these ideas and freebies for how to use animals (sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and more) as the base for creative and hands-on learning projects in your homeschool.
As you can see, summer provides ample opportunity for delight directed learning. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The most important part to this method of teaching is the idea that learning really is fun – delightful – as a matter of fact! Once your children get hold of this concept you’ll be amazed at how often they come up with delightful learning ideas themselves.
How about you? What delight-directed learning do you have planned through summer activities this year?
This post was written by Kelli Becton, blogging at Adventure Homeschool.