Monday, March 11, 2013

Delight-Directed Teaching and Learning - Horses

Delight directed (DD) teaching and learning can happen anywhere, at any time. The basic premise as I understand it is this: follow the bunny trails that present themselves, and teach what your children WANT to learn.

This is not to say that DD learning can’t have some guidelines, but rather than center on boxes to check, you focus on the joy of learning about what your children are interested in at this moment/ season of their lives. One example of DD learning for us was Horse Camp. The summer before Horse Camp was the first time our girls had gone away for church camp. They spent a lovely, full week at camp with other kids from both our church, and other churches around this part of the state. The next summer, Emily was joining a volunteer program, and Arlene was looking for something to do. An email came from camp saying they had added a new, limited size camp, all about horses. Well, Arlene had been reading a lot about horses, I think she was in the midst of “Black Beauty” when I called upstairs. “Hey Arlene! Do you want to go to camp again this summer?” “Sure Mom, is Em going too?” “Nope, just you” I replied. “Do you want to go to horse camp?” Arlene precedes to run downstairs and try to take over the computer (she was almost 10). We signed her up ASAP. 

She spent 5 days learning, breathing, and cleaning up after horses. They had some other fun animals to learn to care for as well. It was Arlene’s first time tent camping. (The cabins were full of the usual summer campers.) She learned so much that week, about horses, about missions, and about herself. She had been kind of reserved, not quite shy, but definitely not the chatterbox her older sister was at her age.

At the end of the week we went back to pick her up, Arlene talked the whole 45 minute drive home! (Well, except the two minutes she spent wolfing down the snack I brought her.) She told us about the horses, (a halflinger and a miniature), about riding the horse, riding around camp in the pony trap, about mucking out the barn, and about how the camp missionaries always wanted to eat dinner with them. (Horse camp made their own dinner over the campfire, everybody else ate in the mess hall.)

This small sacrifice on our part (to come up with the $ for camp) has given her the confidence to know she can learn whatever she sets her mind to. It has been almost 3 years since Arlene went to horse camp. She still has the binder she made with all her sheets and drawings about horses. She is not afraid to talk to anybody about horses, and she asks really good questions about what she doesn’t know. After camp, Arlene continued to learn about horses. She still enjoys an occasional science or fiction book about horses even today. She loves to go to the State Fair and identify all the horses she can remember.

We have done other DD things over the years, too many to count. For many of our friends, DD learning looks like a unit study, where you immerse yourself into whatever you are studying that week/ month. Reading about the Egyptians? Mummify an apple, make & eat flatbread, get takeout from the Egyptian restaurant, wear sandals all week, make up your own hieroglyphics, paint. If you read about it, do it (Ok, within reason- PLEASE DON’T mummify your family cat! LOL!)

Some families tend towards a workbook/ textbook heavy curriculum for year round learning and save DD for their weeks between semesters, or over the summer. However you choose to add some DD, add some. Maybe your child is crazy for dolphins...visit the zoo, watch “a Dolphin’s Tale,” study the kind of fish that live where dolphins swim. The possibilities are endless.

Depending on your current educating style, it might take more or less prep time to do DD. What it probably WILL require is for you to loosen up! Let go of the ‘must do’s’ and find some ‘want-to-do’s.’ Take lots of pictures when you do DD learning, not because they’ll all be stellar photos, but because it helps you keep track of what you did. Then later, when the kids are playing in the yard, or reading a book, you can look at the photos and figure out which activities to record for math, literature, PE, etc. in your planner so you can fill out your boxes!
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1 comment:

  1. I love your picture-taking suggestion to make record keeping easier. I don't necessarily keep records for my younger kid's studies, but I should take more pictures so that I'll at least have something to remember it all by.