Monday, March 11, 2013

Finding Delight {5 Days of Teaching Creatively}

I used to have this picture in my head of delight-directed learning that may have been slightly unrealistic. A kid that gets up in the morning and can't wait to get going on his research projects; a kid so eager to learn anything and everything that he asks for documentaries on DVD and reads the encyclopedia for fun.  I wondered who these families were that could be successful in giving their children a well-rounded education simply by following the child's interests wherever it led.  Because let's face it - if I'd followed my children's interests, we'd study nothing but video games, sports stats, and comic book superheros. And it would take a far more creative soul than I to build a decent amount of coursework from those interests.
At least the kids' interests provide interesting subjects for their artwork!
(These are miniature Stanley Cups, by the way)
And here in Realsville, we have to do things that aren't always delightful. But still need to be done. I shudder to think what conditions we'd live in if I did "delight-directed housework" or if we practiced "delight-directed bill payment".

There must be a way to take delight in learning, making it an enjoyable experience; and establish discipline in doing the difficult, the mundane, but necessary aspects of life.  It's a balancing act, and perhaps one of learning priorities and having right attitudes as well.  So what does delight-directed teaching mean for me? Here are a few things I've learned (and am still learning):

~Delight yourself in the LORD; and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) I have found the sciences so much more captivating when I am learning and teaching from the viewpoint of discovering the amazing handiwork and creativity of God.  Taking delight in God leads to taking delight in what he has created.

~When I am finding delight, it's more likely that my kids will too.  Not always, but when I am genuinely captivated or enthusiastic about a subject, it can spark something in my students. Sometimes it sparks some extra interest on their part, and sometimes they recognize it as a sign that I am a nerd. And I'm okay with that.
I LOVE history and geography! Neither are the favorite subject for my kids, but they can't help but be interested in something that I am so excited about.
They might not readily admit it, but they really like geography - I can tell!
~Embrace nerdy tendencies.  Because it seems to me that nerds are usually people who are interested and knowledgeable about a topic that is unusual. Why is it considered nerdy to collect and study stamps, but not nerdy to analyze and memorize sports stats? I wish we could follow our interests without worrying about whether the people around us would think our interests were "cool".  When I was in school, I really liked Shakespeare but I instinctively knew it would not be "cool" to my peers, and it stifled that interest.  That's one of the reasons we chose to homeschool - so that our kids would be free to be interested in whatever it was that they found interesting.
Art.  Clearly Art is very interesting!
~Be flexible enough to take the rabbit trails that delight leads us down. When I was a student, I mostly disliked science.  Chemistry was confusing and abstract, biology was horrifying because it involved dissections, and few aspects of science really captured my attention.  I remember being fascinated by optics in sixth grade, but it was just a short unit and I don't recall anything else we studied that year. The next time I learned anything about optics was in 11th grade Physics class. Now as a home educator, I may decide that this year we are studying Biology and just start through the textbook with my kids.  But, when I see that they are especially interested in birds or in sharks, I need to adjust course and spend more time there.  And if that means we don't get the chapter on amphibians done, so be it.
We took more time on this astronomy project than I thought,
because all three kids were working together and seemed to be
enjoying it!
Kennady is STILL making these Matisse inspired cut-outs.
This was never in the "lesson plan" - it just happened that we read the book
about Matisse, saw the art idea on Pinterest, and she ran with it.
~Look for the ways to teach the less fun stuff that work with what they do like. For example, Kennady doesn't like math, but she does like stories and computer games.  So we've made Life of Fred her main math curriculum and are supplementing it with online resources like Target the Question and computer games that provide direct math drills like Math Rider.

~Field trips and food make everything more fun and interesting!
Field trip to the C & O Canal.
Oreos and the phases of the moon - winning combination!
How do you find delight in your school days? Please leave a comment, and if you don't already follow my blog, I would love for you to do that too.  And head back to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to find out more about the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Blog Hop! Today we are all sharing about Delight-Directed Learning.  Follow the links below to see what others have to say.

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Lisa @ Our Country Road said...

I agree!! It's hard to follow delights when we would all play video games :). Looks like you've still done a great job!

K Quinn said...

I love "delight-directed housework" and "delight-directed bill payment"! That is so true. Great post. You have to tell us more about that Oreo cookie bit.

Meg Falciani said...

If Jude could only watch Power Rangers and paint, I think he'd feel he was in heaven. Unfortunately, MOM would like it if he learned to read well enough that he could eventually drive himself to the store for more paint.

Great post!

Melanie32 said...

Hi there! I've been following the links on the blog hop and have so ejoyed reading about different perspectives on delight directed learning. We utilize this method in our homeschool so I was particularly interested in this topic.

I thought I'd share how this learning choice looks in our home. My daughter is 11. I lay out guidelines and have a few requirements for each day and then my daughter is free to use the remaining time to persue her own interests. I require math, bible and writing to be completed every day. We also add in grammar and spelling here and there. I assign her math but she chooses where she reads in her bible and what she writes about. I also assign copywork a few days a week. Another main component of our homeschooling is read aloud time. Every day, I read aloud from a biography, another history focused living book and a science focused living book. My daughter narrates and may choose one of these topics to write about as well. We also have daily math drills for 10 minutes.

My daughter is free to use the remainder of her day to learn about anything she wants to. No video games, TV or just for pleasure reading until about 3 every day. She loves to read and would read fiction all day long if I let her so I have her save her personal reading for free time.

Here's an example of a day at our house. We started off with Bible and chores and completed math and math drill as well first off. Then we made a trip to the library where she gathered books on drawing and fish. We came home and she drew while I read aloud to her. She narrated and then asked if she could learn a Pirates of the Caribbean song on her piano. I agreed and we found a good instructional video on youtube. She spent hours and kept at it until she could play it on her own. In the middle of practicing, she took a break and wrote a long paragraph about her new pet cat. After she finally mastered her new song, she gathered her many fish books from the library and read for about an hour, coming to share bits and pieces of what she was learning with me. We also took a nature walk with our dog beside a local lake and practiced her spelling orally as we walked.

We also took breaks for meals of course but it was after 7 by the time she completed all these activities.

I used to read about kids that did these kinds of things but never thought my daughter could be one of them but freeing her time up for delight directed learning has opened up a whole new world for her and for our homeschool. School s no longer something to "get done"-it's finially become a lifestyle for us. I couldn't be more thrilled with her progress. She told her grandmother the other day that she no longer dreads school days or looks forward to the weekend because school is fun now! You can imagine my joy at hearing these words from her lips!

Thanks for the great bog post!

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