The Discipline of Delight Directed Learning

Does delight directed learning mean that I get to do whatever I want to do?  Not really. Not to me at least. To me, it means that I take ownership of my work. It means setting  goals and working toward them. It’s about recognizing that there are skills that need to be learned in order to reach my goals.

To my oldest child, it’s about preparing for the ACT (in case she chooses college) by working harder in her math book and critical thinking skills. It’s preparing for her preferred field of English by working through One Year Adventure Novel course (at break neck speed) and reading as many books as she can find. It’s about dancing and theater classes, guitar and violin lessons. She has learned the art taking ownership of her learning. It means something to her, so it is easier to motivate her to work. I discuss with her  the goals she sets, both long and short term, help her refine them, and then make sure she is working toward them.

For my youngest child, I give choices. She needs to read. She can choose what she wants to read to me. She needs to write. She can choose between working in her Summer Bridges book or doing a free write. She usually prefers the free write, which is fine with me. For example, today I asked her to read and write, her choice.  She chose to copy from a book that her older brother wrote a year ago. She explained to me that she would be reading and writing a lot, so it should count for two subjects. I agreed, knowing that she was taking ownership of her work and her learning. She was proud of her effort and put far more into the lessons than she would have had I simply given her a list of to do’s. Of course she isn’t always begging to do school work, and I have to step in.

That is were the discipline comes in. It’s not always roses. Kids still want to veg and play, watch TV, play video games, and watch music videos. I don’t have a problem with breaks. As an adult, I binge on information when I am learning something new, and when i am finished, I take a mental break for a few hours or even a day. I try to allow the same for my kids, because I believe that mental break is beneficial for the next wave of learning, but we can’t break any time we want. That allows us to become stagnant in our learning.

The solution in my home has been this: We school formally from 10:00am to noon or so to cover the three R’s and some read alouds together. After a lunch break, we keep the screens turned off for the next few hours in order to give the kids a dedicated time to pursue their delight directed goals. That’s it. I ask questions, show interest, offer new resources, and encourage them toward their goals. I’m not leading lessons (not always), but I am making sure that the time is spent pursuing their work at an appropriate level.

Delight directed isn’t all fun and games. It isn’t life with no schedule or goals. However, it is a natural kind of learning that is very effective as long as we keep ourselves disciplined to keep going.

What kind of structure do you use to keep your delight directed learning moving in a forward direction in your home?



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