Going with the flow of learning

Steaming mugs My MIL (who is somewhat of a homeschooling mentor to me) has often talked to me about the idea of "delight directed learning" and I feel as though I am starting to figure out what that looks like just a little bit.

Last week, as I was boiling some water on the stove, my constant observer (4 year old Abbie) said to me, "Mommy, why is all of the steam coming up from the water?"

This one little question sparked a large discussion on the states of matter- gas, liquid and solid. We talked about how water is a liquid, but when we heat it up, it turns into a gas, and that's what steam is. We also discussed how the ice in our freezer is actually solid water, and that's what happens when water gets cold. Who knew it was a science unit in the works?

Since she was still tracking with me, I decided to continue on with this sudden interest, and so I googled a bit and found a website where we could watch educational science videos, made for young children. Sure enough, we found two videos on the states of matter and solid/liquid/gases.

Watching those sparked more interest and discussion, so a few days ago we decided to watch them again and create a poster that shows water in the three different states.


**Abbie gave me ideas of what to draw, and traced all of the printing and I did the oh-so-artistic drawings- can you tell? :)

Next, I think we'll do a couple of little experiments to turn water from liquid to gas and liquid to solid, and back to liquid again. Sounds like fun!

Isn't it amazing how fascinating science can be when it stems out of real life experiences and observations? I'm not sure how well a science lesson on the "states of matter" would normally go over with a 4 year old, but when the interest and motivation comes from her end, look how far it can take us!

Have you found this "delight" principle to be true with your own little learners? How do the other home educating moms out there use this principle to further their children's learning and enjoyment?

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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  1. With my older two in second grade we still follow delight-directed learning as best we can. We homeschool through an online academy with our state. It is a wonderful, mastery-based curriculum that ties things together nicely (for instance often when we are studying China in history, we are seeing Chinese art as well as reading related stories.) Thankfully we have a good bit of freedom in the manner in which we accomplish this day to day. If we want to take a week and work on only math we can, or take the week to really learn the in’s and out’s of ancient Egypt. The twins at age 2.5 are just now getting to where they are really intersted in a topic and want to learn more…so the cycles start again.
    Thanks for the links, by the way!

  2. Learning this way is so NATURAL. My 7 year old has been asking questions about EVERYTHING since he started talking. I just tell him everything I can think about the topic until he isn’t interested any more. If I don’t have an answer (like “Why does medal hook to medal when Daddy welds it?”) I simple say “that’s a Daddy question.” Then when Daddy gets home I remind my DS “Did you have question for Daddy?” Sometime Daddy and I don’t know… then it is onto the internet to find out.

    This is so great because he loves learning! I want him to love it so he will never stop! Learning is fun… until you start testing! That’s when kids hate learning.

    Instead of a quiz, ask them to explain it back to you (or to a younger sibling). If they can do it accurately, then you know they got it.

    No test necessary!

  3. Great post with a lot of wonderful information! My oldest will be starting kindergarten this fall and we’re still trying to figure out what kind of schooling would suit her the best.

  4. Thanks for the link to the Brain Pop Jr site…my boys love to watch videos on the computer, so I’m sure they will want to check those out! And yes, my four year old has a wealth of knowledge just from asking lots (and lots) of questions about the things he sees, reads about, and experiences.

  5. Yes, it’s oh so fun! And I’m missing it all by sending my kids to school. Just kidding, I just miss out on half of it. Just this morning we looked up St. Patrick’s Day in the encyclopedia because my kids were curious about why today is called that. Did you know that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the trinity? I love learning things alongside my kids!

  6. Kym, thanks for that link! That looks so fun and easy to do- I think we’ll do it this week! :)

  7. We love to freeze little toys in water and then play with them while they melt. My guy is so interested in the whole process…fun!

    I wish I could homeschool!! My husband is not completely sold on the idea!! :(

  8. You could use that as a jumping point to go into the water cycle and make rain http://www.weatherwizkids.com/rain2.htm as an experiment and then on to weather or botany and the food chain and cycle of life. its never ending and its so much fun!

  9. Delight-directed learning is a beautiful thing. Alos beautiful is the fact that if you present a subject in a delightful way, it will usually delight your child as well and they will beg for more, which you will happily provide. So you can also direct their delights to cover new topics. But there are lots of things I wouldn’t have planned without following the lead of my children. Like having an earthworm day this week since they have suddenly found them to be the most interesting thing in the backyard.

  10. I love it when learning is fun! My 3yo asks questions like that and I answer her because they retain more than you’d think they do. :)

  11. We, too, are just beginning the homeschooling journey. I’m not sure that I’ve perked up my ears enough to take notice of these little opportunities, though.

    VERY nice drawing, by the way. :P

  12. Delight-directed learning has carried all five of my homeschooled children to great heights. Even those with special needs have their own particular delights. Throw wide the doorways and let them lead. You won’t regret it! : D