What Exactly Is Delight Directed Learning?

So what exactly is delight directed learning? I’m sure it looks different in each of its applications, but a good definition helps to make sure that we are on target.

In its simplest form, It is learning about that which is interesting to you. Does this mean you (the student) are doing whatever you want to do all day? No. There is still a discipline to it. After all, it is called delight directed learning. There should be forward progress toward a new skill or further knowledge attained from a topic of research most days.

Are there days when just resting is sufficient? Occasionally, Yes. Think about this. As an adult learner, I pour deeply into my topic of interest for several days or weeks. When I surface I am usually mentally exhausted, and a day or two of brain break is in order. Some people call this the weekend. I don’t because our delights don’t often care what day it is. My children and I follow said delights when we find them on a Monday just as equally as a Saturday. When we have had enough and need to come up for air, we take a day or more off. Are these lost or wasted days? No.  Well, okay, sometimes they can be. But for the most part, those days are for two very good things: refreshing the mind and body and digesting the information consumed in order to create new questions, new directions, new challenges, even new delights that will move us forward in the next phase.

Are delight directed learning topics chosen exclusively by the student? Not always. I see myself as a learning guide. It is my job to encourage my kids to pursue new things, to find their passions and abilities, to draw out of them what is hidden from even themselves at the time, and to challenge themselves at a higher level than they might feel brave enough to try. I am finding though, that the older the kids get, the more self directed they are in pursuing difficult tasks and new knowledge. This is the fruit of delight directed learning.

Is delight directed learning a hands off approach to homeschooling? Not even close. In fact, I think I have my hands in their work more so this way. I spend hours a day talking to kids about the project they are working on, helping them check their math or spelling before completing a project, showing them how to look up information, watching them demonstrate what they have learned or created. I’m learning along side them this way. I’m learning about writing and dancing, sewing and music, mythology and physics. It is a family affair.

Does delight directed learning include learning reading, writing, and math? I can only answer that for my family. I do require language lessons until each child can read and write well. These are most important skills in becoming a self educator. I also require math in seasons for the older children where we plow through several chapters over a period of six weeks, and a few times a week consistently for my youngest.  We also have six week sessions as a family where we focus on an area of history or science. There are lots of ways to coordinate the necessary skills with delight directed learning. This is just how we do ours.  🙂


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