Everything You Need To Know About Child-Led Homeschooling

Are you curious about child-led homeschooling? Find out more and decide if it is a good fit method for your homeschool family!

When we began homeschooling I wrote down my mission statement. I wanted to instill a love of learning that would last a lifetime while prioritizing relationships and connections.

We tried many different methods of learning before I realized the best way to achieve my goal and have the homeschool I most wanted to have was to be child-led learners. 

Everything You Need to Know About Child-Led Homeschooling

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What is Child-led Homeschooling?

Child-led learning is also commonly referred to as interest-led learning, following the child’s lead, or delight-driven learning. They all pretty much mean what it sounds like. Using your child’s interest to drive what you are going to learn about. 

There is flexibility in this because you can decide how much your child is going to lead. You can let them lead everything in your homeschool. Or you can let them lead a little bit in your homeschool. 

In our homeschool, we use child-led learning for mostly everything outside of math and language arts. That doesn’t mean if she was interested in a math or language concept that we wouldn’t follow it. Because we would.

It just means that I feel like those two subjects are important enough that I have a bit more say. 

The reason I feel confident in allowing all other subjects to be child-led is that while I may have to work a little harder, I know I can weave them together. 

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Emily was obsessed with Harry Potter and wanted to spend a year at Hogwarts. It took me a bit to figure it out but I was able to create a year-long study that let us do just that. We took classes such as alchemy, astronomy, herbology, and potions to cover science. I turned muggle studies into history. We read all of the books and did copy work for language arts. We used Chalk Pastel Harry Potter Marathon to add in some art. And we did a study on the composer, John Williams, to cover music. 

What are the Benefits of a Child-led Homeschool

One of my favorite quotes is, “Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he’s not interested, it’s like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating.” by Katrina Gutleben. 

Anytime I find myself falling back into a mostly parent-led homeschool I re-read it and remind myself of the many benefits of a child-led homeschool.

Child-led Homeschooling Fosters a Love of Learning

There is nothing that fosters a love of learning more than child-led learning. You are creating an environment where your child feels heard and seen. Where their interests matter and where they are free to follow their curiosity as far as it takes them. 

This is the perfect recipe for raising a child who loves to learn. I mean who wouldn’t want to learn when they get a say in what they are learning and when what they are learning is something that interests them. 

Child-led Learning Leads to a Deeper and Richer Learning Experience

I can say we are going to learn about herbs today and go through all of the motions of teaching about them. But, nothing will ever compare to her learning about them because of her own interests. Tying an herb study to Harry Potter and her interests made for a deeper, richer, more complete learning experience.

Child-led Learning Creates Long Lasting Learning

Thinking back to my own school days the things I remember are the things that interested me. Do I remember any history? Nope! Because I found it boring at the time. But, I remember math because I loved math. 

By allowing a child to follow their interests you are creating that. You are allowing them to be interested in everything they learn about which means years from now they will remember more of what they learned. 

What Does a Real Day Look Like in a Child-led Homeschool 

Each day can look a little bit differently when you are following your child’s lead. In our homeschool, it looks like setting aside times and spaces for her to have total say in what we do while I still slightly steer the ship at other times.

Our morning basket (how we start our homeschool day each day) is 100% Emily’s. She picks a theme each month and chooses what will be in our morning basket. The things she chooses to put in it normally consist of read-aloud books, hands-on activities, and games

These are her favorite things. So it ensures we are starting the day by following her lead, sparking her interest, and filling her love tank while spending time connecting together.

After that, we do some table time. This normally consists of any written/computer work we need to get done. That will be any worksheets that correspond with our unit studies, our math, and our language arts. 

In the afternoons we set aside time again for her to take online classes, enjoy subscription boxes, or have free play to explore her interests. 

You can watch our Homeschool With Us: Day in the Life series on YouTube for a more in-depth look at what this looks like in action.

Resources To Help You Get Started With Child-led Learning In Your Homeschool

To be honest the only thing you really need for child-led learning in my opinion is an internet connection. In this digital age, an internet connection gives you access to almost everything right at your fingertips. 

Other resources that are helpful in child-led learning are a library card, a good encyclopedia, and an open mind.

An open mind is necessary because sometimes what your child is interested in doesn’t feel educational at all (video games for instance) but the reality is any interest can be educational if we can be open-minded enough. Because who knows where that interest may lead. 

If you have a child who is like mine and enjoys things like Magic Tree House books, Bear Grylls, Harry Potter, or Who Was books or celebrating holidays then I have you covered with even more resources! 

Jessica Waldock

About the author

Jessica Waldock is a writer, photographer, and homeschool mom of one living in sunny Florida. She founded The Waldock Way as a way to give back to the homeschool community that she loves so much. Jessica shares tips, tricks, inspiration, and unique resources that help ignite a love of learning in children that will last a lifetime.

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