Delight-directed learning has been a way of life for us for many years now. It began when my son was in 2nd grade and already losing a love for learning. I didn’t go all out in the beginning and just change everything we were doing all at once, but instead took a slower approach. Then one day it finally hit me — this method was working for him. He didn’t complain about being bored, and most days he was excited about what was next. Well, except for math. He’s never been excited one day in his life about math.
But he was excited about learning. And he was taking ownership, even at that young age, for his homeschool days.
Finding different ways to incorporate Ben’s passion for things like America’s history into every day life has broadened his perspective tremendously. Instead of only learning what was in the curriculum we used as our spine for World War II, we also took field trips, read books, and incorporated play, apps, games, and movies. Ben immersed himself into the topic for over year, and today, I dare say he knows more about World War II than most adults (he definitely knows more than this adult). And more importantly, he has discovered a passion for history that will likely lead him to his profession in the future. Imagine what he would have lost had we just stopped with the textbook learning, or if I had insisted on learning whatever came next in the textbook.
Sometimes (much of the time), when I begin talking about delight-directed learning to other homeschool moms, I get a blank stare for a few minutes, followed by these types of questions:
You don’t write lesson plans in advance?
How do you know if your son is learning everything he needs to learn?
What about gaps?
It seems to bring out the anxiety (and maybe even lack of confidence I mentioned yesterday) when I suggest veering off the prescribed lesson plan. I get that. I really do.
But I am perfectly comfortable with allowing my son’s interests to dictate our days, not even knowing sometimes from day-to-day what will come next, for one reason. His love for learning has been ignited by this method.
I don’t worry about gaps (all curriculum has gaps). As far as concerns about him learning all he needs to, a love for learning is the goal here, and with that he will always have the ability and desire to learn what he needs to. We do make the 3Rs a priority, and knowing how to research is key.
I also understand that a total immersion into delight-directed learning is not for everyone.
However, I want to encourage you today that you don’t have to take the giant leap into a complete overhaul of your homeschool to incorporate this method some of the time. Delight-directed learning can happen in EVERY homeschool, even yours.
Here are a few ways:
- Ask your children what they would like to learn about, and then set aside time in each day for them to explore that topic online, in books, etc.
- Listen to what your children get excited when they are talking, and then find a unit study on that topic to do once a week. You can call it Friday Fun School or unit study day. If you can’t find a unit study on that topic, create one yourself.
- Take a break from your usual curriculum for a week, or a month, or during the summer and dive into a topic you’ve brainstormed with your children
- Create a fun school jar of exciting activities that can be done on the fly, and use it for those days when your children are struggling to stay engaged
- Schedule field trips around the topics your children are excited about
- Head to the library (and your own bookshelves) to find books to fill a book basket on a topic your child is passionate about
- Do a fun project together. Get messy.
- Use your curriculum as a jumping off point. When you are teaching and you see that “spark,” be willing to follow some rabbit trails to really fan the flames
- Make holidays more fun with special art projects, unit studies, books, and baking
- Have your children begin keeping a journal of ideas
In the coming days, we’ll be going into many of these topics above with greater detail. So if you are reading them and wondering, “How do I do that?” then be sure to come back each day in July to learn more!