I am honored and excited to introduce to you:
Marcy Crabtree who blogs over at Ben and Me. Read, comment, share, and connect as Marcy shares about Delight Directed Homeschooling.
Delight is such a lovely word, isn’t it? According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, delight is described as, “a high degree of pleasure, or satisfaction of mind; joy.”
What else could we ask for from our educational approach than for our students to have a satisfaction of mind and joy? And when it comes to education, a high degree of pleasure isn’t a bad thing either.
When we first began homeschooling, like many of you, I pictured my son sitting in a desk, working feverishly (and happily) to complete assignments. What he learned would be determined by the content of whichever curriculum I finally settled on purchasing. Said curriculum would have a daily plan for me to follow. Ben and I would be at home, together, and I would fill his brain with all the knowledge available to us! I spent several hundred dollars (more than once) trying to find that perfect curriculum for us. But nothing really seemed to work for us. There wasn’t much delight in learning. Instead, there was much boredom, drudgery, whining and frustration. Not exactly the picture I had in my mind of what homeschooling should look like. I had fallen off my lesson plan early on and more than once. I was a failure as a homeschool mom. Ben was in second grade.
You might be wondering why I so easily fell off the lesson plan. I blame the “rabbit trails”. Rabbit trails are the little things that pique interest that cause you to veer off course. We could be studying about Mexico, the text would mention the migration of the Monarch butterfly, and off Ben would go into the land of butterflies. You see, it was not enough to learn about Monarchs, he needed to know more. He wanted to know about other types of butterflies, and “can we grow butterflies, Mom,” and “don’t they have butterflies at the zoo we could go see?” Our detour into the world of butterflies might take us off course a few days. Or a few weeks. That wouldn’t be so bad if that only happened occasionally. But I found myself either veering off course continually, or saying something silly like, “I’m sorry honey, we can’t learn more about butterflies, we have to start learning about China now…how about pandas, wouldn’t you love to learn about pandas?!?!” We spent more time on the rabbit trails, then we did on the scheduled curriculum.
Then one day it hit me –when given the chance to study what interested him, a spark ignited in my son and he began deriving pleasure, satisfaction, and dare I say it — joy — in learning. When given the opportunity to follow those rabbit trails, a spark lit inside him. That spark was flamed by the freedom to enjoy learning about the things that delighted him and soon we had a roaring fire!
“Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”
—W. B. Yeats
I had been spending too much time trying to fill Ben’s bucket. It was time to just light fires. I wondered what it would be like if we started homeschooling by “the rabbit trail method”. That was about 2 years ago, and since that time, most of our homeschooling has centered around this delight-directed approach.
You won’t find any pre-planned curriculum in our homeschool. No tight schedules laid out months in advance either. You will find a list of topics my son wrote down at the beginning of the school year, and added to throughout the year. Topics that pique his curiosity enough that he wishes to learn more. It is this list that helps me “plan” what’s next in our homeschool year. Of course, we veer off those topics all the time, too. But that’s ok. There is no lesson plan to fall off of. If Ben asks to study about horses, and within the first week we are off following the “Ancient Egypt” rabbit trail, that’s perfectly ok. And yes, that did happen.
I’ve been asked before how this approach differs from unschooling. For us, it differs in that I do offer a measure of structure — while the subject matter is generally my son’s request, I do assign him tasks to complete. Whether it’s books to read, topics to research, or a lapbook or notebook to complete, at the end of his study, Ben has completed several assignments. We use a regular math curriculum as well. I believe math to be one of those subjects that must be learned incrementally. While we work in “living math” to our day as much as possible, I have not left this topic to Ben’s delight. He does not delight in math, in any form! But he must learn it anyway.
Some of you are wondering about gaps. Let me assure you right now — gaps are an educational myth. We all have gaps. There is no way to teach your child everything there is to learn or for us to learn everything there is to know ourselves. But if your child develops a love of learning, because it delights him to learn, and you give him the tools for learning, there is no worry about gaps. He will have what he needs to learn anything required of him and everything he desires to learn.
Children are naturally curious. They want to know about things. They want to experiment, explore, engage. God has gifted each of them with talents, passions, and interests for the purpose of serving Him and bringing him glory. When we allow these passions to direct our homeschooling, amazing things happen. To Him be the glory.
Marcy Crabtree spent nearly 15 years as an Ob nurse, sometimes juggling homeschooling with the job she calls her first ministry. Grateful that her main ministry today is at home, she has been married to Tom for 14 years, and is the proud momma to 11-year-old Ben. Her homeschool style is delight-directed, using mostly unit studies, and greatly influenced by Charlotte Mason’s love of living books. You can find Marcy blogging her reviews and homeschool journey at Ben and Me.
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