Delightful Learning for Life with Interest-Led Homeschooling

When we first begin our homeschooling adventure, many of us have a “school at home” mindset already ingrained from our own educational experiences. Even though we want something different and better for our own children, it can be difficult to let go of those old patterns.

Delightful Learning for Life with Interest-led Homeschooling

Sometimes our greatest obstacle is learning how to relax and trust the learning process.

I went through this myself when I first began homeschooling my oldest daughter over ten years ago. I lacked the confidence to stray from the preset curriculum, so I ended up duplicating a school environment at home. Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was squashing the curiosity and joy that my daughter naturally had. I knew I wanted to encourage that creativity and eagerness to learn for life — not just to get through the academic requirements.

Enter interest-led learning, or as we call it in our family, delight-directed homeschooling.

Let’s just think about the terminology for a minute:

Interest-led. That should be a given, right? Learning is interesting, or at least it should be most of the time. All we need to do is fan the flames of our child’s natural interests and she will learn!

fire to be kindled

Delight-directed. Doesn’t that just sound . . . delightful? Yes, and it can be! When we relax and focus on the relationship with our children, we can really get to know who they are and who they are becoming. It’s a privilege to guide them in those delight-directed studies.

The word school doesn’t generally have such a positive connotation. In fact, the slang definition of “being schooled” means:

To defeat or put down decisively, especially in a humiliating manner.

That’s certainly not what I have in mind for my children’s education.

When you’re talking about an attitude or a mindset, these kinds of things matter because they have an impact on how we feel about our educational method. It changes something like, “Okay, you have to learn this because we’re up to Chapter 7 in the math book and we need to get this done” into “What would you enjoy learning about and how can we help this actually apply to real life?”

In our family, interest-led learning includes lots of living books, hands-on projects, great discussions, unit studies, lapbooks, notebooking, field trips, and whatever supplemental materials we might need. These things are the foundational tools we use for learning, though our approach to them varies depending on what we’re learning.

Creativity is encouraged. So are questions and exploration.

As homeschoolers, we have the advantage of being able to follow the great rabbit trails that learning can take. 

This is delight-directed homeschooling at its best — following your child’s interests and watching the love of learning take off!

interest led learning

One of the questions I hear most often from other parents about interest-led learning is: “How do you avoid learning gaps?”

This question is asked out of concern for giving our children a complete, well-rounded education. However, it sort of falls into the same category as the socialization question. Well-meaning or not, this question misses the mark.

So-called learning gaps happen in public school, too. The difference is with delight-directed, interest-led homeschooling, we are equipping our children with the skills to develop a lifelong love of learning, which means they will continue to learn whether we’re “forcing” them to or not. Learning is not something you get through, but rather a lifestyle.

Interest-led homeschooling is purposeful. It’s not aimless even though we don’t follow a strict curriculum. I still file my required reports to the school district to show that my daughters are making progress. I keep a portfolio of their work.

Rather than focusing on arbitrary test scores or grade levels, we instead keep our focus on our overall goals. This means following their interests, talents, and passions in pursuit of purpose in life. That is the heart and soul of interest-led, delight-directed homeschooling.

Join me in my Homeschool Mindset Facebook Group.



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Sara Panning

About Sara Panning

Sara is a homeschooling mom to three daughters from elementary to high school age. She has been blogging about their learning adventures since 2008 at Heart and Soul Homeschooling. Sara loves to encourage other homeschool moms through her ebooks, journals, workshops, and homeschool consulting services. You can also find her on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Delightful Learning for Life with Interest-Led Homeschooling

  1. I’ve wanted to try interest-led learning, but I always fall back to using curriculum. I think I am not sure how to go about interest-led, especially with multiple ages and a variety of interests. Do you build a sort of “curriculum” around their interests? I’m very interested in trying this method out because I do want love of learning to be the main goal of our homeschool, not just meeting the next academic goal.

  2. Our homeschooling journey is ever evolving. What started more as traditional learning at home has morphed into freedom to explore individual interests while still learning and growing. At first I stressed that I needed to reign in that freedom and go back to the traditional, but I have come to realize learning is individual and life-long, and I can embrace my children for who they are and where they are and facilitate their individual journeys and growths with their interests. Afterall, our ultimate goal is to prepare them for life.

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