DE-LIGHT [di-lahyt]; noun; a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture
I’ve written before about my conviction to move our homeschool to a more delight-directed approach. But what exctly does that mean? Where do you begin? The above definition of the word, “delight,” is a good beginning to answering those questions.
If you ask most homeschool moms what they hope to accomplish with their children, you’re sure to hear, “I want him to love learning,” somewhere near the op of the list. It’s always been at the top of my list. But how do you instill a love of learning in your children?
I can tell you, from experience, how not to in my homeschool:
1. boxed curriculum
2. strict schedules
3. uninteresting (read boring) subject matter
4. long, tedious lessons, sitting at a desk
5. not enough time to explore
That’s just the beginning. I could probably go on, but I think you probably get the point.
Ben and I have struggled with homeschooling off and on since we began when he was a preschooler. If we weren’t having fun, he was acting out. I blamed it on bad attitude, laziness, or hyperactivity on his part, or my own inability to find a curriculum that worked for his learning style. But about 2 weeks into this school year, I had a revelation. And not a day to soon.
It wasn’t about his attitude or activity level. It wasn’t even a character issue or my lack of meeting his learning style needs. It was boredom, plain and simple, boredom. It was like that philosophy class I had in college, that I had no interest in, but was required to take. Give me anatomy and I flourish. Give me philosophy and I fall asleep. Ben was falling asleep. He needed more anatomy!
We’ve always enjoyed unit studies, when we’ve done them. And we have done them, off and on, for years. We started homeschooling with Five in a Row (FIAR) when Ben was 4. I’ve always praised the curriculum, encouraged people to try it, loaned out my manuals. But we never used it as regularly as we should have. Why? Because I was always concerned about whether or not it was enough. Or because, in the back of my head, I wondered what else I was missing. I was often swayed by beautiful catalogs, fancy websites, or passionate convention speakers, all touting the latest and greatest in homeschool curricula. Sometimes I even felt like if I didn’t try the latest and greatest, I was somehow failing my child. Never mind the fact that he loved FIAR and was learning so much.
And in the end, because of my own insecurities, I was failing him.
“Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” ~William Butler Yeats
I was attempting to fill Ben’s bucket. I should have been lighting his fire. Sometimes I did get a spark, but before it could really burn bright, I snuffed it out , time and time again. In the end, instead of helping him find delight, enjoyment, JOY in his learning, I was leading him down the road toward boredom, dread, and frustration.
“train up a child in the way he should go….” ~Proverbs 22:6
I think we’re on the right track now. The destination is “delight-directed” learning. The destination is “the way he should go.” The destination is “the love of learning.” I believe with all of my heart, that giving Ben the tools to learn about those things he is interested in, passionate about, the things that bring him joy and delight, will give him the tools to a lifelong love of learning. He’s already proved it over and over in the past few months. Are you wondering how? Read on….
His love of animals, and desire to be a veterinarian, led us to the Kentucky Horse Park, which led us to Amanda Bennett’s unit study on Horses. His love of astronomy and desire to someday apply to the NASA program (as a vet, of course), led us to the US Space and Rocket Center, which led us to Amanda’s unit study on Space. He practically does these units on his own. He probably would do them on his own, except that I want to be there learning and exploring with him.
The complaining about school is over (well, except for math and I’m working on that, too), and his thirst for knowledge in these subjects is almost unquenchable. Our current unit study on the Winter Olympics, coupled with 10 inches of snow on the ground (God is so good!) has led him to explore winter sports, the science behind them, and the people involved with them. He already loved snow, but learning more about it has been a bonus!
He is having fun, learning, reading, exploring, asking questions, seeking answers, researching, and finding new and creative ways to spend his free time…all those things you hope your child will do.
Never would I have seen these changes in him on our former path.
So we’re off. We have goals and they don’t include page numbers, boring lessons, or completed textbook chapters. Our destination is set forth….it is delight-directed, it is unit studies, and we will not be knocked off course this time!