Your first inclination when you read that title might be, “Yeah . . . right.” Delight-Directed Learning and the Principle Approach are at complete opposite ends of the homeschooling style spectrum. I hope I shock your socks off when I say . . . I don’t think so!
True to the method of the Principle Approach, let’s start by defining our terms.
1. A high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind; joy.His delight is in the law of the Lord. Ps. 1.
2. That which gives great pleasure; that which affords delight.
Delight is a more permanent pleasure than joy, and not dependent on sudden excitement
Directed is: pp. Aimed; pointed; guided; regulated; governed; ordered; instructed.
LEARNING, ppr. lern´ing. Gaining knowledge by instruction or reading, by study, by experience or observation; acquiring skill by practice.
Training a child through aim and instruction to take a high degree of pleasure and satisfaction of mind in the things of Christ, where he will gain knowledge through instruction, experience, and observation that leads to Wisdom.
Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right. Proverbs 20:11
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child Proverbs 22:15
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
These verses demonstrate that a child can be foolish, that it can be demonstrated by his/her actions, and that the human heart is deceitful. Further, we are commanded to “Train a child in the way he should go…” indicating that “a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” Proverbs 29:15
The Bible indicates that parents are responsible for directing our children to delight in Him. Really, there is very little else we are directed to do!
What would this look like for a family who embraces Delight-Directed Learning and is moved to employ the Principle Approach method in their homeschool?
For younger children (preschoolers-Kindergarten age) this might include teaching Biblical principles to the children in an implicit manner. You wouldn’t have to identify the 7 Principles and 7 Leading Idea in a formal, pen-to-paper way. They can learn the stories of individuals who exemplify Christian character and Christian self-government. You can call attention to the character of the individuals in their broader, Biblical terms such as obedience, honesty, and industry
For school-age children 1st through 3rdgrade they can begin to look at the cause-to-effect relationship between the actions the characters in a story take and the outcome. As a parent, you can direct the conversation to the Biblical principle that undergirds the idea of cause-to-effect which is called, “sowing and reaping.” Activities might include making simple T-Charts for the child’s use that demonstrate his internal character on one side and his external action on the other. Dramatic play-acting of these examples is also a fun way for a Delight-Directed Learner to learn by doing!
For children ages 4th through 6thgrade, you could continue to teach using T-charts and begin to train the child to Research more on his own, in whatever particulars about the story he delights in. A rabbit trail here could yield big results in the heart of a child who internalizes what they research. If a child is struggling with diligence, encouraging, by way of direction, a delight-directed study on George Washington and the way he saved and only built one section at a time of what would become Mt. Vernon might speak to the child in a way you cannot through lecture. Or seeing how Nat Bowditch respected his sisters could encourage kindness. You could begin to teach the method of “defining your terms” and allow the child to develop his own dictionary! You could work on a “terms to define” list together and see how the Holy Spirit works in the heart of your child! And you!
By the time the child is in 7th grade, with your direction, the child should be able to take delight in the more explicit teaching of the 7 Principles and 7 Leading Ideas of America’s Christian History. You can now learn along-side your child! What conversations you’ll have! Conversations based on ideas for the child to “consider and ponder” will reveal to you what the child has come to delight in! This is my favorite stage!
I think Delight-Directed Learning & the Principle Approach can easily go hand-in-hand because both depend upon the laying down of something abstract and teaching it in a concrete manner. In Delight-Directed Learning, the abstract is “wonder” and a child is led by their imagination and natural curiosity. In the Principle Approach, the abstract is “consider and ponder” and a child is led by Leading Ideas born of curiosity. As long as the parent guides the child’s natural curiosity and reasoning to search for Truth in God’s Word, we are on a sure foundation!