It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of child-led learning. Following your child’s interests can lead to so many amazing learning experiences you never would have thought to explore.
So what is child-led learning? It’s just what it sounds like: following your child’s interests to propel your lessons and topics of study. Sometimes child-led learning is called interest-led learning or the delight-directed approach.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to facilitate child-led learning in your homeschool. So, keep reading for some don’t miss tips on incorporating child-led learning. Plus, examples to get your started following your child’s interests on your learning journey.
The Benefits of Interest-Led Learning In Your Homeschool
There are tons of awesome benefits to following your child’s interests as you plan your homeschool lessons. Child-led learning increases the likelihood that your kids will enjoy what they’re learning and retain the lesson. It’s a fantastic way to create lifelong learners!
With child-led learning, your kids are in charge. Kids can follow their unique interests, curiosity, and imagination to learn all sorts of amazing things. It eliminates the pressure kids can feel to learn things they don’t see the value in and the pressure you might feel to make them complete certain lessons.
By letting your kids choose what to learn and when to learn it, you’re ensuring that they’re ready for the skills and lessons you’re teaching. When your kids are ready, they’re more receptive and more likely to learn valuable skills no matter what the lesson is about.
An Example of Child-Led Learning
So what does it look like? Letting your child direct school lessons might feel overwhelming. If you’ve never tried it, you probably have a lot of questions. What if your child is never interested in algebra?
It’s important to let your child know upfront when there are lessons that must be completed and might not line up with their interests like math and grammar. You can sometimes get creative and work the theme into these lessons too, but that’s not always possible.
Just because you can’t make every lesson about your child’s interests, doesn’t mean you should completely scrap the idea of child-led learning. Follow your child’s lead when possible and you’ll be amazed at all the things you can learn together.
For example, did you know that a group of vultures is called a committee? My daughter does! It’s a fun fact we learned following one of her interests as it happened.
Here’s what happened:
We were right in the middle of a fascinating dinosaur unit study following one of her current interests, when we awoke to discover a group of vultures had taken up residence in our yard. My daughter was very interested in watching the vulture group and her observations sparked lots of questions.
First, she asked me what a group of vultures is called. After that, there were lots of new questions too! By the end of the day, we had learned about groups of vultures, vulture families, and even the different parts of a vulture’s body. In the end, it even circled back around to our lessons about dinosaurs as we discussed how they are related to dinosaurs.
I can honestly say I never would have chosen a unit study or lesson plan all about vultures. However, we learned so much that we wouldn’t have ever studied that day. Following my daughter down the rabbit hole when it comes to homeschool lessons is always a fun adventure that results in learning so much more than we would. I have never regretted following her lead.
How Do You Facilitate Child-Led Learning In Your Homeschool?
Are you wondering how to facilitate child-led learning in your homeschool? There are lots of awesome ways you can secretly discover your child’s interests and plan lessons focused on them. Here at Waldock Way, morning baskets, strewing, and technology have led to lots of exciting child-led lesson plans and unit studies.
Check out my top tips for incorporating child-led learning below.
Don’t Ask “What Do You Want to Learn?”
Don’t ask your child what they want to learn about. It never turns out like you’d expect, especially if you’re new to the child-led learning approach. When asked this question, most kids freeze up and don’t know what to say. If they do say something, it’s probably “I don’t know.” Instead, pay attention to your child’s interests and try to plan lessons around those interests.
Don’t Assume It Isn’t Worth It
Don’t assume that the topic your kids want to learn about isn’t worth exploring. Resist the urge to devalue your child’s interest. Not every topic has to be super educational in order for your children to learn from it.
Spend quality time together engaging in activities related to their interests. Is your child interested in video games? Play the game with them. You might be surprised by what you learn.
Recently, I discovered that my daughter’s interest in minecraft can be used for all kinds of fun lessons. Also, Minecraft actually requires a great deal of logic to play successfully.
Don’t Overcomplicate It
As homeschool moms, we have a tendency to take our child’s interest and run with it. We have to be careful to resist the urge to go out and buy all the resources and plan tons of lessons about a topic that our kids have only a fleeting interest in. Follow your child’s lead. Let your effort meet their interest. If they only have one question about a topic, answer that question and move on when they move on.
For example, when my daughter asked about vultures, I came in and asked Alexa to tell us what a group of vultures is called. That led to more questions and finally an interest in the physical body of a vulture which led me to find a printable she could color and label.
If her interest had stopped after answering the very first vulture question, I would have stopped too. There’s no need for me to spend all day on Pinterest, Amazon, and YouTube getting vulture resources and activity plans if my daughter has already lost interest in the topic.
Answer Their Questions
If you want to have a successful homeschool learning experience, the number one thing I suggest is that you answer their questions. Whatever you have to do, answer their questions. Google it if you have to, but answer those questions.
Taking the time to stop and answer your child’s questions will spark curiosity and encourage your kids to follow their interests and learn all sorts of new and amazing things. Following child-led learning doesn’t require you to spend lots of money or time on resources. These days, all you really need is an internet connection.
I love resources like games, activities, books, and a good set of encyclopedias. However, all you really need is an internet connection to follow your child’s interests because it gives you the ability to google what you want to know, watch a video on it, and learn as much as you want about the topic.
I hope I’ve answered some of your questions about the power of child-led learning and inspired you to give it a try in your homeschool. What other questions do you have about following your child’s interests? Are you interested in giving this method a try? Why or why not? I want to hear all about it in the comment section, so don’t forget to share your thoughts and questions with me.