How Child- Led Learning Works In Our Home

The boys prefer to see their work laid out before our day begins and know what is expected of them. They also know they can change it at anytime.  I don't always like setting out their work because I feel like I should be following their lead; but they do ask me to help them out by showing them what they must do each day.

I try to follow their lead whenever possible.  I find that leads to the best learning opportunities. 

Ian, in particular, likes to know that as soon as he completes his math sheet, his reading and his writing he can head outside and dig in the dirt or ride or his bike.  He was outside by 11 o'clock this morning and had the rest of his day planned out for himself.

Most days even when I put their work out and have it stacked near their seats at the table I find that our day reaches far beyond the seat work I pulled out. 

The other work that we cover is usually something we're led to learning about by following one of the boys interests or questions.  

I find that many homeschoolers follow a child led approach to learning but how that is approached varies from family to family.  This is how child led learning works in our home.

Today was one of those days where the math, reading and writing I had pulled out were just barely the tip of our day.

We went rollerskating for two hours last night and got home rather late.  The boys then needed showers and dinner and it seems like the later they go to bed, the earlier we're all up.  We were all up early this morning and out the door by 7:30 to get grocery shopping done.

I really didn't want to go to the store but we were at the point where I just couldn't put it off any longer.  The boys were super helpful and well behaved; I've been trying to only go a few times a month so they don't get as bored and act up and it seems to be working.  I was even complimented on their behavior!  They pitched in and helped me unload the car and carry all the groceries to the kitchen too.  Ian told the boys that we should work in teams and that Ian and Evan would unload the car and bring the groceries to the entryway and then Alec and I could cart the bags to the kitchen and that way no one would be tracking in dirt and mud either.  Ian pointed out that by having Alec work inside while he worked outside would separate them and prevent them from fighting.  (Life Skills)

They all agreed and got happily to work.  Alec even offered to cart all the bags to the kitchen so I could start unloading.  It was wonderful.

 All three boys had brought their math work in the car and were waiting for me to check it over.  They ate breakfast and watched some TV and played Minecraft while waiting for me to sit down at the table with them.  Evan had completed two pages in his Star Wars math book where he had to subtract 10 from 2 and 3 digit numbers.  He was finished his work before anyone else and told me it was easy.  It must have been since he had them all correct!

Alec and Ian had wanted another coloring page from our Quilt Math book and worked on reviewing rounding and subtracting.  They had to round each number to the greatest place value and then subtract.  I was surprised to see that they struggled a bit with remembering rounding but they caught on quickly and got it all done.  Ian chose not to color his and Alec chose to assign three different colors to the answers than the ones provided for a "prettier" quilt.

Once I went over their math work with them and told them I wanted reading and writing done today too they all went their own way.  

Alec sat down to color his math page while Ian went upstairs to read an Iron Man book.  Evan wanted to read some more of the Dick and Jane book so we settled down together and he read three more stories to me.  He also wanted to flip through the book and see the rest of the pages.  He then went through all the names of the characters on the front cover.  (Reading)

As soon as we were done he settled at the table to work on his phonics sheet.  He had to cut the pictures from the bottom of the page and glue them under the digraph chunk that each picture started with.  Today's work dealt with ch- th- & sh-.  

When he was done Evan and Alec took off to Evan's room and read some more of their Minecraft book.  Alec read out loud to Evan and they stopped frequently to talk about Minecraft itself and things they had learned while playing or watching videos on YouTube.

When Ian was done reading his book he came down and wrote a short story about why he wanted to go outside and play.  His punctuation was great and his spelling was perfect!  Not one single word was spelled wrong and he joked with me that it must have been the pencil he was using.  I think our little bit of writing each week is finally starting to pay off.  (writing)

He asked me the difference between close,  and clothes and our day went off down the rabbit hole.  I followed his lead and we learned so much about spelling, word origins and geography!

He was surprised to find that "close the door" and "that was close" were the same spelling.  He knew that clothes were spelled differently and I reminded him that clothes were made of cloth and cloth was found in the word clothes.  He then told me some of the memory tricks he uses for spelling other words and the next thing I knew we were having a discussion about where words came from.  He started asking me about the names of the different states and we looked up the origins of the state names.  Before we had read more than a handful he predicted that many of them would be named after Indian tribes or words and he was right.  We read through all 50 states and talked about what their names mean.  

Who knew a spelling question/ lesson would turn into a geography lesson?  He happily handed in his story and headed outside to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and partly thawed ground.

Alec and Evan came downstairs after they were done reading and Alec settled at the table.  We watched a few minutes of the Live Eagle Cam and Evan asked if he could make some Kool Aid all by himself.

He measured everything out and mixed it all up.  He excitedly called Alec and I over to watch the whirlpools he was making and how high up on the sides he was getting the drink mixture.  We then looked up what causes the whirlpool and just as I was about to read it Alec chimed in with "it's caused by two different currents hitting one another."  He was right, of course, and told me he learned that through Pokemon.

We often cover science in this way; by looking up answers to real life questions of how things work.

Sometimes if the answers lead to more questions we'll turn it into a unit and we'll pick up extra books from the library and find further experiments to do.  

Usually the boys are much more interested in a topic they choose to study.  Today, however, they were content with the answer they understood and could relate to Pokemon (something they are already experts in). 

Alec then asked me to ask him a question for his journal writing today.  I was out of ideas so Alec came up with his own question and asked me to write it at the top of his page for him.  He wrote about which two Pokemons he would catch if he could and why.

Once Alec finished up his writing we all settled down together to eat lunch and read more of the I Survived book.  We were only going to read 3 chapters but our last chapter ended at a cliffhanger and the boys wanted me to read on so we could find out what happened to the boy.  We read one more chapter and we'll finish up the book tomorrow.  We already have plans to read the I  Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor next.  They're really enjoying this series a lot.

After lunch we all headed outside for some sunshine and fresh air.  It was such a beautiful day with a nice spring feel to it.  We're still swamped with snow piles but the boys were not deterred from having fun.

They rode bikes and scooters.  We went all up and down our road stopping to play with and observing the ice and snow along the way.  We had a race to the end of our road and back; Ian used his scooter but the rest of us ran and Alec ended up winning.  He's quite the sprinter.

We saw many signs of spring and enjoyed being back outside so much.

We hopped in the car and went to the library.  My kids have free reign at the library; I find I can better follow their interests when they show them to me.

We listened to some more of Inkheart and the boys happily examined everything that we put into our bag at the library.  A lot of the truck books that Ian had ordered came in and he carted them to the car examining them and flipping through them as we drove home.  Alec was thrilled his next Guardian's book came in and he read the back cover to find out what would happen in the next story.  We got quite a few movies in too and the younger boys could hardly wait to watch their Pokemon movie.

Once home I sent them all off to play again.  Ian went right back outside while Alec chose to play up in his room.  Evan spent an equal amount of time inside and out looking for someone to play with him.  Alec finally offered to sit and read some more Minecraft with him and they happily sat together.

It was a nice mellow day where learning flowed naturally.  I find our best days are often days like this where the children lead and I follow with a bit of gentle of guidance now and then.


  1. I love how homeschooling can easily flow from one thing to a learning adventure! You are so great at seeing those moments!! Thanks for the reminder!

    Thanks for linking up at #LiveLifeWell



  2. Y'all had a full day! I'm always so inspired by your homeschool days! It makes me want to be more intentional about chasing after the natural questions that come up throughout the day. It seems like a big key in being successful in that is flexibility - which is hard for me. You seem to have devoloped that beautifully. Thanks for sharing with us over at Live Life Well. :)

    1. I struggle with the flexibility too. I love to list and plan and organize and it was so hard to me to move away from that-- so very hard!


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