Delight Directed Learning/What if my child never learns his multiplication tables?

“My daughter doesn’t know her multiplication tables and she is in high school,” a homeschooling Mom lamented. “What should I do?”

It wasn’t that her daughter hadn’t learned and relearned the tables, it’s just that they didn’t stick. She wasn’t a math minded girl. This was a creative soul with a bent toward artistic pursuits and music.

We homeschool moms feel as if our children must check off the educational boxes, the sciences, history, literature, languages and mathematics. It is as if we are asking our children to fit inside a peg just slightly different from the one we pulled them out of. Children should have a well-rounded education. All of the aforementioned subjects should be taught, but we must not force our round pegged children into a square pegged hole or vice- versa. I am an adult and I cannot remember the last time anyone asked me to recite my times tables. Can you?

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This isn’t a post against math.  It is a spring-board to find your child’s gifts and talents while he is still under your roof. We homeschool moms can get a negative bent when it comes to academics- we tend to hyper focus on what our kids don’t know instead of what they do. Sometimes what they do know is buried deep because we are so determined that they excel in the one area that they are weak. We don’t take the time to dig or help them to do so and find that talent, that bent,  the desire to know more about something. We pour over lists of “What your ___ grader needs to know” or compare notes with other moms (guilty).

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I’m not an unschooler. We have a regular curriculum and we follow the guidelines of our public system- that is- we cover all the basic subjects prescribed  by our board of education. With that said, delight directed learning does have its place. God gives us the desires of our hearts. Our kids have desires. Some of those have not been discovered. And if we moms (guilty) are so adamant that they excel in all areas, we over burden them with unrealistic expectations and their desires are unmet.

Here’s a confession- I’m writing this because I need reminded. Probably every day. We moms fill our schedules so full, they muffin-top over the calender page. We make lists of things to check off. Math. Science. Grammar. Check. Check. Check. And then we careen through the day at top speed.  What of the delight? The joy of learning? The teaching towards the child’s bent? And what about learning? What actually sticks?

The love of learning comes from desires being fulfilled. I’m not talking about a hankering for sweets. I’m talking about deep questions. Kids begin asking them when they are young,

  • How do birds fly?
  • Why do we have skeletons?
  • How does a spider make a web?
  • Why are you putting baking soda in the pancakes?
  • Why does it rain?

Often, we moms squash these inquiries by shushing the kids and sticking to the text. Of course, there is a time and place for the questions and some children will ask them all day if it gets them out of seat work. We parents must discern when is appropriate and follow through with some inspection. Watch your child when he learns something new. Watch the delight. The moment of epiphany and join in the wonder.

When children become a bit older, it sometimes becomes more difficult to find those questions. The teen can become buried in required studies. There seems to be little time for delight directed learning. It takes a parent’s careful observations to help it along. Does the teen prefer essay writing or story writing? Does he like to take things apart and put them back together? Does he invent things on his own time?  Does he make up languages to add to a story he has written?

My advice to me (and you if you need it)- Slow down. Take notice. And then…. plan accordingly. Chose a course that follows the child’s desires : Ornithology? Engineering? Novel writing? Gardening?  Add it to your schedule. Make time for it. Cross something off the list a few days a week to fit it in. Don’t push your child until he is bitter and has no desire to learn. Lighten the load and add some joy. Some discovery. And if your child forgets his multiplication tables multiple times (pun intended), don’t require perfection in that area,  expect progress. That is enough.

Here are some great videos on the topic of homeschooling!

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