Learning to Follow My Child’s Lead in Our Homeschool ~
Written by Jessica Waldock of The Waldock Way
What does child-led learning look like in our homeschool?
Child-led learning is all about following your child’s lead. It’s also commonly called interest-led learning or delight-directed homeschooling. But following a child-led learning approach doesn’t have to mean your child has complete control over their education.
Once we discovered the benefits of following our child’s lead, we knew it was the right choice for our family. Taking an interest-led approach to our daughter’s learning led to creating unique and creative products we can use together as a family.
Our daughter, Emily’s interests determine what we will learn about and I can always weave together her latest curiosity or passion into a unit study that encompasses lots of different subjects such as art, history, music, science, and geography.
A common misconception about following a child-led approach is that it will spoil your children. Giving them the reins in something as important as their education will surely cause them to be spoiled, right?
No, child-led learning won’t spoil your children. Spoiled kids are kids with behavior problems due to over indulgence. Giving our homeschooler a say in what she’s learning isn’t a form of over indulgence.
Learning to Follow My Child’s Lead in Our Homeschool
Here are a few examples of how we incorporate interest-led learning into our homeschool:
Did you know there’s a game for pretty much every subject and concept you can think of in your homeschool? Plus, you can play a whole lot of different games with just a deck of playing cards! When you’re gameschooling, there’s no limit to what your kids can learn.
Plus, it’s a fun and easy way to incorporate Emily’s love of games into any lesson she might find challenging or “boring.” For example, our love of family game night is how Emily finally memorized her math facts! Yahtzee helped her remember all kinds of addition and multiplication facts quickly while having fun too.
You can discover more about how we use games for interest-led learning in our homeschool and why we think games are an essential part of interest-led learning.
Morning baskets aren’t necessarily a child-led learning tool, but we have turned them into one. In our homeschool, we theme our morning baskets to match Emily’s interests and line up with what we’re currently studying. Before we started theming our morning baskets, Emily would lead us down a rabbit trail about one poem, story, or picture in the morning basket and we would never make it back to the other items.
Now, Emily not only chooses the theme for our morning basket, but she picks all the books, games, resources, and activities that go in our morning baskets too. She’s learning how to budget, choose items wisely, and learning more about all the topics that interest her too.
Unit studies have become the most important way that we incorporate child-led learning in our homeschool journey. We began a child-led approach early in our homeschool when Emily expressed an interest in “doing school with Jack and Annie,” characters in The Magic Treehouse book series.
I ran with her newfound interest and created a whole curriculum focused around learning history, geography, science, art, and music while traveling through time with Jack and Annie. Our Passports to Adventure unit study would only be the beginning of all sorts of fun learning adventures!
This year we are on a brand new adventure, discovering the human body with our Human Body Unit Study – covering all kinds of important topics with hands on experiments, games, books, films, and fun resources.
The hardest part of child-led learning in our homeschool
Letting go and leaning into homeschooling as a lifestyle was the hardest part of child-led learning for me. It was hard to break free from the traditional school mindset and envision something new and different.
Our biggest reasons for homeschooling have always been fostering a deeper connection and relationship with our daughter and ensuring that she understands learning is a life-long journey. Child-led learning has helped us do that in incredible ways.
I’ll admit it, I sometimes have nagging doubts and wonder if we are doing enough, but they quickly pass. Using my grade level checklists before you begin a brand new child-led learning adventure can help if the doubts are creeping in on you too.
Remember that there is no such thing as ‘behind’ in homeschooling. Give yourself lots of grace. You can do this.
What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!