Homeschooling is full of catchphrases and lingo, and sometimes I feel like I need my own special dictionary to navigate all of them. When I was first heard the term “delight directed learning” I reacted with something like a blank stare.
I mean, it sounds nice. I like my kids being delighted. I like learning. So what IS ‘delight directed learning?’
It means working with your child’s natural curiosity and interests. Children naturally wonder and explore the world around them. Delight directed learning says you don’t need textbooks or workbooks to teach. You can explore the world. You can follow rabbit trails. You can breathe a little easier.
Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t teach. To the contrary, many people who follow a “delight directed” style of homeschooling still teach fundamental skills (like math and reading) in a systematic fashion. The difference is that they look for learning opportunities in the interest and activities their children already do.
The more I read about delight directed learning, the more I realized my family already follows this philosophy. Here is what delight directed learning looks like at my house:
We get out and explore.
My kids are young. We’re still very much in the sleep deprived season of parenthood. My kids have more energy than any of us know what to do with. So, instead of staying in desks, we head outside.Our yard is full of educational experiences. They all come up with the best questions, and can spend hours exploring. Delight directed learning says: let them.
I look for “teachable moments” regardless of where we are.
We recently spent the day at a local indoor playground. You know the type, huge inflatable slides everywhere, with lots of things to jump on . . . and off. The kids don’t need to stop and ask questions here, there is too much to do! So, when Doodle insisted he take off his socks *again*, or when Bug realized you go down the slide faster when you go with a friend, I made a note of talking about simple physics concepts on the way home. Both boys were more than happy to talk about gravity and velocity on the way home- and can’t wait to go back to “experiment” with their new-found information. Delight directed learning says: learning and fun can co-exist.
We follow rabbit trails.
Sometimes, Bug gets caught up in an interesting topic. I do too, so I don’t bat an eye when every nature walk for a month revolves around finding the coolest Lichen out there . . . And wants to bring in samples to look at under the microscope. . . And needs to look up Lichen in his books. I may get sick of Lichen, but Bug, with his wonderful, non-stop curiosity, isn’t. Delight directed learning says: let him explore that topic as far and deep as he wants to go.
I relax, and breathe deeply.
I’m not the most laid back person, but the longer we homeschool, the more I realize that this curiosity and excitement for learning that comes with childhood should not be wasted. Bug spent months writing about Batman. But, he was writing, and his writing was improving. He currently spends every free moment reading a Pokemon handbook and making a Pokemon Bingo Game. That’s educational too.
Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed trying to make sure I am doing everything “right.” I feel like I have pretty high standards for my children’s education. I personally have a hard time letting go of fancy curriculum with a clear scope and standards, and lots and lots of fancy words that say I am “covering what I am supposed to.”
Over the last year, I have relaxed, and gone back to the basics. I have followed the kids’ needs and interests and put together units that engage all of us. The kids have been thriving following a delight directed learning model.
Delight directed learning says: Trust your child’s curiosity and your ability to help it blossom.