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Delight Directed Homeschooling: Questions & Answers

Here are your questions with my hopefully helpful answers. I am not the final authority on these matters, but I hope my own experiences will be beneficial to you.

Do you focus on one study at a time? Or are there times when you have multiple studies going on? I am trying to help Parker focus a bit more now that he is getting older. But he has this crazy desire to plan out six projects to work on at one time.

Elijah focuses on one major topic at a time. He often finds one hour or one day projects to do (a game to create, some math fact tables, an invention idea to draw) within his long term study. And the short term projects are completely unrelated to the main study. These break up his day and allow for spontaneity. He might read a book about Pompeii or research the answer to a question about a Venus Flytrap in the midst of a study on outer space. 

I would have Parker write down all his grand plans and choose one project to complete. Once it's done, revisit the list and see if he's still interested in any of the others. If he is resistant to only working on one, possibly choose two. 

I’d love to know what a typical day of learning looks like in your home. How about even a typical week? How much time is spent at home vs. out?

Elijah's typical day:

Poetry and Bible Memory ~ 10 minutes
Editing Excercise~ 5 minutes
Math Lesson ~ 30 minutes
Copywork or Dictation ~ 10 minutes
Narration (any books he has read) ~ 5 minutes 
Read Aloud with mom & Simon ~ 60 minutes 

That's 60 min of foundation education plus 60 minutes of reading aloud.

He has to fill an additional two-three hours with good stuff (research, reading, project making, math enrichment, etc.) ~ all his choice.

Monday is co-op and park day, so we are out of the house. We try to sneak in read aloud time on Mondays, if we can. 

Tuesday – Friday we follow the pattern above. I've been without a car this year, so field trips have been reserved for Saturdays.

How do you encourage project completion? My son is great at starting things. Not so much at finishing. I’d love to help him complete projects without things feeling forced just to get it done.

When I notice interest waning, we sit down and chat. We determine, together, what the end of the project will look like. I may even offer my assistance, but I don't push my way in. In the real world people hire workers to help see their vision to completion. A child can ask you to do the same–just make sure you are doing it their way and not your way.

You can also encourage your child to make some changes in the original plan in order to make finishing possible and painless. For extra motivation, you can offer a presentation night (where the student will show and tell his project to the entire family). 

For what subjects do you use actual curriculum? And are there any subjects where you plan the study totally yourself? For instance, do you have a history curriculum that you use, or do you wait for your kiddos to become interested in something historical?

I am also very curious to see what curriculum you use for a base – i.e. math.

I'm always hesitant to rattle off our curriculum choices because there isn't anything magical about them, but I'd hate to stifle your curiosity, so I'll answer. And if you like to research curriculum (like I do), you might want to check them out. 

We use RightStart for math. We've used it from the beginning. We've coupled RS with other math resources (Life of Fred, Challenging Word Problems, fun books from Scholastic), but RS has been our main course for math.

Language arts choices have included: Handwriting Without Tears, Draw Write Now, Primary Language Lessons, Daily Paragraph Editing (2, 3, and 4), and Spelling Wisdom (for copywork and dictation). I have not done formal grammar or writing instruction with my students.

I do use curriculum/pre-planned studies based on my children's delights: various unit studies from Homeschool Share, NaturExplorers Studies, Download N Go, and Elijah is gearing up to use the wonderful living books found in one of Heritage History's programs as he embarks on his Ancient Greece quest. 

I’m wondering how you’ve seen this work in larger families?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive, and it's difficult for me to answer. I've never seen it in action in a large family.

Personally, I would train the most eager learner of the bunch — how to track topics of interest, how to research, how to fill large chunks of time with profitable activities. Once that child is going strong, I would see if anyone else wanted to follow suit. 

If I had a lot of littles (multiple children under the age of 7), I would simply ask the children what they want to study and rotate through the ideas, giving each one a chance to have their delight.

During your large chunk of time that you give to the child to learn do you have any parameters on what they can or cannot spend their time doing? 

Yes. They each have to do the foundation education work first.

The younger they are, the less I require as I try to let them just enjoy the gift of childhood! Simon can do his core work and then fill his time with something (anything) constructive. He likes to listen to books on tape, help me cook, and play LEGO. He also loves to be outside and makes great observations out there. When he plays out, he is cultivating his curiosity. 

Elijah loves lists, so I made one for him to remind him of all the wonderful things he can be doing during his independent time. He does not have to stick to the list, but it gives him a guide when he is having an "I don't know what to do" moment.

I don't think I ever qualified this in the entire series (shame on me!), but my kids aren't always working on big studies. There are days when Elijah does his foundation education work and then finds smaller projects to keep his hands and mind occupied.

Do you have to submit a yearly plan to your school district? How does this affect your schedule for the year? 

I do not have to submit a yearly plan. I'm not sure how I would handle that. I don't know what is acceptable for your submission, but if permissible, I would write-up something listing all the core work we would do. I would also list all the required readers and read alouds and use the topics in our read aloud books as science and history study topics. And then I might add something that says, "We will be following the interests of the students throughout the school year. Topics studied may include dragons, dinosaurs, volcanoes, Ancient Egypt, pirates, spiders, frogs, etc." 

So my question would be, how do you structure your days/weeks/years to cover the bases, or do you?

The only bases I believe need covered are reading, communication skills (writing, speaking), and math. I do cover those bases, and I leave the rest to my kids (who are doing an unbelievably wonderful job). 

If you made a list of your top 10-20 dd resources to have on hand what would they be? (REALLY would love to know this!)

Oh wow! I will have to come back to this question. Hopefully, I can write a blog post (next Thursday or Friday) detailing my favorite resources to have on hand. Did you get the fan freebie hand-out on my Facebook page? There are lots of ideas there, but I will still work on a list for you.

How do you steer your kids toward these things without it seeming like you’re pushing? 

I turn off the TV. I know this won't make me Miss Popular, but when we limit media consumption, our kids find amazing things to do. My kids aren't bereft of video games or movies (trust me, they get plenty), but our society is raising an entire generation of kids who sleep, eat, and breathe media. Why would they want to engage their brains when they can have them on auto-pilot all the time? 

My real secret weapon is read alouds. We can learn about Columbus with Pedro's Journal. We can venture into the French and Indian War with The Matchlock Gun. If I want sparks of interest to fly for the middle ages, I'll pick up A Door in the Wall. And read. 

I'm still up for questions, so let me know if you have any. I certainly don't have it all figured out, but I'm willing to share from our own experiences. Thanks for following along with Ten Days of Cultivating Curiosity!

The 10 Days Series is organized by iHomeschool Network, a collaboration of outstanding homeschool bloggers who connect with each other and with family-friendly companies in mutually beneficial projects. Visit us on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter. And of course, click the image below to visit all the 10 Days posts from these homeschool moms of the iHomeschool Network. 

14 Responses to Delight Directed Homeschooling: Questions & Answers

  • Christa says:

    Another question that you have probably answered somewhere, but point me in the right direction…you mention using read-alouds to learn about periods in history, and I want to do that, but how do I find which books deal with what time periods? I’ve tried searching on Amazon, and I’ll probably look at Sonlight’s lists, but where else do you look?

    Thanks!
    Christa

  • Michelle G. says:

    Ami I can’t tell you how refreshing this series has been (again; I actually said it yesterday or the day before :) You have reminded me of who I was when I started on this journey, a lot less uptight and a lot more supportive of my kids as individuals. I can’t say that I will follow all you’ve said here, or that I agree with everyting 100%, but you have given me SO much to think about.
    Over the last few days I’ve gutted our school area and made room for more open-ended creative things. Today, I just finished making a rail/clip system for our hallway in order to hang all of there masterpieces (that they will be producing a lot more of!)
    I am the one who asked for the list of materieals, upplies and go-to items in your homeschool. (I don’t do Facebook so I didn’t see the printable.) No rush and no pressure, but I truly would love to know the things that your kids go back to time and time again (besides the obvious like Legos). For us it’s art supplies, but I was thinking of investing in a microscope, maybe erector sets, setting up a science experiment box, etc. (Over time as $$ is always a factor)I know you’d have great ideas. I’ve added you to my favorites, and I’ll be back! Thanks so much for writing and sharing!
    Much thanks,
    Michelle

  • Michelle G. says:

    Oh my goodness – please ignore all of the spelling errors and typos above – moving a bit too fast today!

  • Shannon C says:

    Christa–try All Through the Ages by Christine Miller for great ideas for history read alouds. Great resource! Also, Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay Clarkson and Read for the Heart by Sara Clarkson offer some great suggestions for different time periods.

  • Christa says:

    Shannon C- Thank you for the suggestions! Off to google right now! :)

  • http://WWW.SimplyCharlotteMason.com has a book finder resource where you can enter the dates of interest and books are listed for you. It is a great resource!
    Debbie Hendricks recently posted..MoviesMy Profile

  • Ami says:

    Sonlight is a great resource for finding read-alouds for different historical time periods. Shannon mentioned Read for the Heart. That’s one of my FAVORITE resources (see my sidebar). I have friends who really love All Through the Ages (but I don’t own it).

    I think you’ve been given some great suggestions! :) Ami

  • Lindsay Taylor says:

    What does a project look like for your kids? Posterboard, lapbook? I want to implement this but I’m unsure of what the delight directed study and project part of the day should look like. Do you set up the project based on their interest or does it look more like unschooling aside from language arts and math? Btw, you are a huge inspiration for me!!!

  • Krystal says:

    I too want to know more of what Elijah’s projects look like when he’s done. How does Simon’s “the jar” from a previous post fit into your homeschool day?
    You’ve given me a lot of inspiration – thank you!

  • Thank you, again, I really enjoyed this. Blessings!!
    Amber @ Classic Housewife recently posted..Can I Have 5 Minutes of Your Time Please?My Profile

  • Tina Smith says:

    I REALLY like this series! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing all this great info! You have seriously inspired me to work harder and providing delight-driven educational opportunities for my kiddos.

    Out of curiosity, since it doesn’t seem to have been mentioned…how would you say delight-driven education differs from unschooling? I see that you do have curriculum that you use and so I would say that they are not the same, though there are definitely similarities. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the differences?
    Tina Smith recently posted..Episode 7 (July 1, 2012)My Profile

  • Ami says:

    Hi Tina!

    I know every unschooler does things a bit differently, but unschooling = less structure, less facilitation from mom than what we have going on. I think it’s safe to say that unschooling is self-directed learning. In Delight-driven learning, the learning is determined by the child (with mom’s help and guidance) but directed by the delight.

    Unschoolers generally would not push the Three Rs like I do. Although “push” is a funny word to use here because I don’t push like the school system would. I wait until the child is mentally (and even physically ready) for the Three Rs. I’m sure you read the foundation education post where I discuss this in depth, so I won’t ramble on here. :)

    For our family, delight-driven learning is a good balance between traditional schooling and unschooling. :)

  • Mary says:

    Could you explain more on how you do your 60 min. read aloud? I read all the time to my children randomly throughout the day but I wondered how you structured it. I have an advanced 7 yr old boy and a young 5 yr old girl whose ability to understand things is far apart from each other. Unless I am reading a picture book it doesn’t keep my little girls interest. I notice your boys are even further apart so do you read to them separately according to age appropriateness?

    Thanks

  • Ami says:

    Hi Mary,

    I will try to answer this in a blog post on Wed or Thurs.

    Thanks! :) Ami

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