What is the ultimate goal of an education? That can vary greatly, but generally the goal is to guide children into adulthood with the skills they need to be successful there.
This is my mission statement:
Life Academy exists to promote a life long love for learning, a complete education in the basics, and an atmosphere in which deeper passions may be explored in the ways each child learns best.
I approach this mission with a delight directed approach, and the older my kids get, the more delight directed their education becomes. This is a typical week’s activities:
For my high schooler, I always enter the week knowing about what we want to do, but not exactly. I know I want to cover a chapter of math, see some writing practice and steady reading of new ideas, and facilitate opportunities for her delights to be pursued. As an eleventh grader, I see these delights leading to her future adult life, and that means they are very important.
Last week, she worked on a unit test in her math curriculum, visited the library for books of her choice, and wrote a post for her new blog. Math, Writing, Reading? Check!
She went grocery shopping on her own, learned how to write a check, and baked a pie. That’s life skills!
She went to dance practice for 6 hours over the course of the week and student taught for 6 more hours. On Sunday, she danced in the local Christmas parade with her studio, she danced an interpretive dance in a homeschool drama club talent show Wednesday, and today she danced in a recital. I don’t know if dancing will be in her future in the long run, but the life skills she is gaining certainly will be.
She finished making a sewing mannequin that she had been working on and sewed the top half of her Christmas dress. She also made alterations to the Elsa costume that she previously designed and sewed so that she can wear it for the little kids’ dance class party this week. Delights don’t require my pushing. Every day she asks me for help or shows me what progress she has made just because she loves it. She has made 4 dresses and altered a couple others this year. Her skill in this area is becoming marketable.
I have two in middle school age right now.
My eighth grade son is a sponge and a deep thinker, but he is not thrilled with traditional lessons. Are any of us really? I still require the basics, but I try to go about his lessons with as much play as possible.
Last week, he completed a chapter of math with me the traditional way and visited the library for books. We read stories together from Tommy de Paola’s Christmas Remembered. He practiced oral narration, a skill necessary in preparing for written narrations, by telling us about a movie preview he found interesting.
He did some grocery shopping with minimal assistance from me, and on the way home we talked about service related businesses and wise money saving.
We played games that involved strategy, critical thinking, and more. They included Words with Friends, Scrabble, Manhattan, King of Tokyo, Chess, and Phase 10.
He played the cajon, a box drum, for the drama club talent show. He really enjoyed having an audience, and I suspect he will want to practice more and play again when he gets the chance.
Today he carved his name in a branch and explained to me how he made each part. Hands on skills and communication skills are important.
Tomorrow he will attend a full day of Boy Scout requirement work. He will work on orienteering, first aid, cooking meals, and more. Boy Scouts is a great delight directed resource for him to learn and prepare for adulthood.
My sixth grade daughter is a classic delight directed learner. She usually has several things she is working on and is very self motivated to learn the next thing. She is a hands on learner and very right brained. Her week looked like this:
She played the saxophone for the talent show. She’s taught herself to play. We only made the sax available and offered help when she asked.
She visited the library where she chose books on drawing and crafts. She loves to draw enough that I often have to pull her away when I need her to do her chores. She spent time drawing Olaf, peacocks, and Christmas cards.
She spent a great deal of time outside in nature, where she says we were created to live.
She worked on her tumbling on the trampoline probably for hours. She is always teaching herself the next big skill.
She went to dance class, where tap is her favorite, and tumbling class, where aerials are her favorite.
I managed to squeeze in a chapter of math.
My third/fourth grader is still young, and she has a lot of play in her. At the same time, she still needs a lot of practice in the basics. I prefer to wait until each child is seven before asking for formal lessons, and because of that they get a lot more play time when they are younger, but are a bit behind for a few years. In our experience, every kid so far has gotten back to “normal” grade level by the sixth grade. We are still in that process with this child, but I have faith in how we are doing this because of the success of the others.
Her typical week includes an hour or so on a website called Mobymax.com where she works on her math skills. I am in love with this site right now.
We visit the library weekly for her to choose books, we read bedtime stories together, and we practice reading skills with a program called Phonics Plus Five. She has been a slow reader, but just in the past couple of weeks, I am feeling very encouraged by her successes.
In her “free time” she likes to play outside. She often finds neat insects, trees, and birds. She is on a bird kick lately. She also watches *a lot* of Wild Kratts on Netflix. Of course all of this is science. She also likes to make stores. Bookstores. Pet stores. Craft stores. It doesn’t matter. She just loves stores. And I love that I can teach money skills while she plays. Her weekly free time activities vary, of course, but this is a good sample.
For some kids it is a bit harder to find their delights. In the meanwhile, play is learning especially while kids are young. I trust the process because, again, I see it’s success in the older ones.
The first 18 years of life are not just dull years for preparing for adulthood. Kids should be living lives of delights as well. Help them learn the basics. Guide them to become life learners. Follow the delights God has given them. I encourage you to try it. It works.