Interest Led Learning When Your Child Is “Behind”

We follow an interest-led learning approach in our homeschool for all kinds of reasons. For starters, this approach works really well for us. Interest-led lessons and unit studies give us the opportunity to meet our daughter where she is and make the learning journey fun for her along the way. 

Plus, interest-led learning is a great way to help children progress. Whether they are struggling or not retaining information well, interest-led learning can make all the difference. Keep reading to learn more about how you can use interest-led learning in your homeschool when your child is behind in their curriculum.

Interest-led learning is a great way to help children progress. Let me show you how to do interest led learning when your child's behind.

Why Interest Led Learning Works So Well In Our Homeschool

Here at Waldock Way, we are big on interest-led learning and there are lots of reasons why. One of the reasons we homeschool is our deep desire to be lifelong learners and leave no question unanswered. We want our daughter to love learning and we want to learn alongside her too. 

Interest-led learning gives us a unique opportunity to not only learn with our daughter but learn about her and connect with her on a deeper level. We get to explore Emily’s passions and interests through our lessons and unit studies, broadening our own horizons right beside her.

Focusing on interest-led learning also helps us to meet Emily where she is. We follow her lead. I find the resources and present her with them. Sometimes I strew them, incorporate them into a morning or bedtime basket, or use videos and online classes

Then, Emily gets to choose how many books to read or activities to do. I don’t push her to do more. She decides whether to do one book or 50 books. You can’t drive someone else’s passion, so I don’t try to push her in that direction any further than she wants to go.

We like to use resources in our homeschool, but we don’t necessarily follow a prescribed curriculum from page 1 to page 100. Instead, we pick and choose what we need and want to learn following our child’s lead. Doing this allows us to meet our learning goals without feeling like we are falling behind, need to catch up, or aren’t getting everything in. 

For example, recently interest-led learning taught us way more than I ever knew about vultures. They broke into our trash and watching them cavorting in our yard was really interesting for Emily. She asked a question: “What is a group of vultures called?” Since we don’t leave questions unanswered, we set out to discover the correct term. By the end of the day, we had learned a lot! 

Following these interest-led rabbit holes has taught us all kinds of things! Also, it has helped to foster a deep love of knowledge and learning in our daughter and that’s priceless.

Can You Still Incorporate Interest-Led Learning If Your Child Is Behind

Following your child’s interests down rabbit holes filled with learning isn’t just something you can do with gifted kids or kids who are academically advanced. Interest-led learning is something you can incorporate with children of all ages and abilities, no matter where they are in their learning journey.

Yes, you can still incorporate interest-led learning opportunities in your homeschool even if your child is “behind.” First of all, there is no “behind.” That’s the beauty of homeschool. Our kids don’t get behind because we can slow down and dive deep when we need to or speed up if we wish. Homeschooling allows us to meet our kids where they are and help them build and learn from wherever that may be.

If you’re worried about meeting certain goals, check out my skills checklist. It’s not a rule book to follow strictly, just a helpful guide to put your mind at ease for those moments when you’re feeling like you might not be meeting your curriculum or homeschooling goals. 

Remember, it’s totally normal for kids to progress in different areas at different times. Every child is different, with their own strengths and their own challenges. In fact, in my experience interest-led learning is a great way to get reluctant learners excited about lessons. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get kids back on track.

Interest-Led Learning Actually Helps Children Progress

Our daughter Emily really struggled with math. She didn’t retain the information well and it became a battleground for us. I love math and we often butted heads. Finally, I backed off.

I decided to do nothing but play math games for a while. This went on for quite a while. Emily loves games and she was always interested in playing her favorites and trying new games too. 

I let her interest in games lead the way. I chose games that built on the math skills I wanted her to learn and practice. Before I even knew what was happening, she wasn’t just understanding the math, she was loving it! In the end, Emily was asking to do math. It was a big win for our interest-led homeschooling approach.

There Is No Behind In Your Homeschool

If you get nothing else out of this article, please know that there is no “behind” in your homeschool. One of the most beautiful aspects of homeschooling is that our children can’t really get “behind.” Instead, we have the opportunity to meet them where they are and work with them 1:1 to develop the skills they need to move forward in their learning journey.

Remember, sometimes we have to take a step back to move forward. Learn from my example and don’t be afraid to hit the pause button as I did with math. Find your child’s interest and start there. After all, an interested kid is more likely to learn, be successful, and have fun doing it too.


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