When my son was a little guy and we began homeschool- ing, I poured over home- school magazines, surfed
the Internet for hours, joined forums and
Yahoo groups, and asked every homeschool
mom I encountered a million questions
about curriculum, homeschool methodol-
ogy, and schedules.
If I was going to homeschool my bright,
active, curious little boy, I was going to do it
up right. So, by the time he was in the sec-
ond grade, I had spent literally thousands
of dollars. And we were miserable. My son
I found myself with a seven-year-old
who was constantly fighting me about doing school, and I was selling as much curriculum as I purchased. I felt like a complete failure as I watched curiosity quickly
Then one day, while learning about Mexico, I saw that once familiar spark return
when we began studying about the monarch butterfly.
Where else do butterflies live, Momma?
What other kinds are there?
Can we catch some?
Are they at the zoo?
Can we grow some?
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There
is no cure for curiosity.” (Dorothy Parker)
My initial inclination was to grab a couple of books from the library and then move
on to China. China was on the lesson plan.
We had already fallen off our lesson when
this same curiosity sprang up about beavers. There wasn’t time for butterflies now!
But something spoke to me, telling me to
stop for a moment. I had not seen my son
this excited about learning in quite some
time. I decided to put the lesson plan aside
and spend some time learning more about
We read books.
We ordered caterpillars.
We visited the butterfly area of our zoo.
We made a gorgeous Blue Morpho out of
construction paper, tissue paper, and glitter.
We took our butterfly net outdoors,
caught butterflies and moths, and observed
We had fun!
And more important than the fun, my
little boy loved homeschooling again. He
was excited to learn. His curious sparkle
was back. And he was never bored. Not
We have not looked back from this de-
light-directed approach. My son is now in
high school, so I do play a big part in his
learning. However, I do less teaching and
more facilitating. I am sure to provide him
with the tools and materials he needs to
learn about the things that interest him. I
also make sure that he meets the necessary
requirements for college, but he has a tre-
mendous amount of input for how that is
implemented. (He does use traditional cur-
riculum for math and English.)
I am perfectly comfortable now with allowing my son’s interests to dictate our
days—some days not even knowing what
will come next—for one reason: his love for
learning has been ignited by this method.
I don’t worry about gaps (all curriculum
has gaps). As far as concerns about him learn-
ing all he needs to, a love for learning is the
goal here, and with that, he will always have
the ability and desire to learn what he needs.
If delight-directed learning is a method
that interests you, the good news is you can
begin whenever and however you wish.
There really are no rules. There’s also no
prescribed formula. You can start at the be-
ginning (of the week, or month, or school
year). Or you can just start in the middle of
whatever you’re currently doing.
Brainstorm some ideas with your chil-
dren, listen for clues about what excites
them, or simply follow some rabbit trails
with your current curriculum. Have fun,
get messy, and enjoy watching their won-
derful curiosity blossom into a love for
Marcy Crabtree spent nearly 15 years as a
labor and delivery nurse, sometimes juggling
homeschooling with the job she calls her first
ministry. She has been married to Tom for
seventeen years, and is the proud momma
to thirteen-year-old, Ben. As a part of the
TOS team, Marcy helps lead the Schoolhouse
Review Crew as its Marketing Manager. She
enjoys offering encouragement to homeschool
families through her blog, Ben and Me (
Learning by Marcy Crabtree
A love for learning is
the goal . . . and he will
always have the ability
and desire to learn.
works at your own pace!