A delight-directed journey to the ocean

I have mentioned before that we take a natural learning approach to homeschooling our kids. Delight-directed learning is another term I like to use to describe what we do, and I’d like to share an example of the way this works in our family.

Octonaut happy kids!

Late last year the ‘Octonauts‘ became a popular cartoon series on TV here in England. Although we don’t generally watch TV, we happened to stumble across this program and Prince instantly became hooked. For those who haven’t heard of it, the Octonauts is about a team of animals who go on missions under the ocean to help sea creatures who are in trouble. Having checked it out, my husband and I agreed the cartoon was fun and harmless, and so let him watch it whenever the opportunities arose. Quickly the Octonaut fever grew, and by the end of Christmas he and his sister were the lucky owners of almost all Octonaut gear available! It was then that I started to notice his increasing knowledge of sea creatures and the ocean.

By May this year Prince’s love for Octonauts had started to fade slightly, but replacing it was a deeper interest the real ocean and the creatures who live in it. For his birthday we decided to celebrate this with a trip the to the London Sealife Aquarium, which he LOVED!  From then on his passion has grown and grown. As he showed greater interest, we helped him to learn more by providing him with books, documentaries, posters, field trips and other sources of information (some of these were free, others we spent money on).

Allowing Prince’s learning to be directed by his delight has had amazing results. In less than a year he has gone from knowing practically nothing about the ocean, to being an expert on sharks (most especially the great white, which he thinks is just beautiful) and knowing more about the ocean than anyone else I know (adults included).

It may be obvious that through this passion Prince has learned a lot about science, but what may not be obvious is that it has also contributed to other areas of his education too. For example:

– His reading has improved as he borrows, buys and reads every book he can on the topic.
– Similarly, his vocabulary has increased to include many specialist words he would not otherwise have come across.
– He is grasping mathematical concepts such as percentages, size and weight measurements.
– He has written and illustrated several books on the ocean and its creatures.
– He researches and draws anatomically correct pictures of varieties of different species.

Delight-directed learning really is a delight, and I am so thankful to God that we are able to pursue this style of home education!


Dear God

As each day of my motherhood journey passes, I am more and more convicted of the need for prayer, in two key ways.

1)  Fervent, deep prayer.  Daily – or at least, regularly – we need to set aside time to go into our room, close the door, and pray to our Father who is unseen. There is no way that any of us are capable enough to raise, teach and fulfill children on our own. We may have gifts, talents, commitment and love, but we are still not enough. I don’t say this to tear us down; I don’t want to submit to false humility or self-deprecation. I just want us to be honest – and the honest truth is no matter how good we are, we are not perfect. We will fail as a parent – and often! The truth is, we need to appeal to a power greater than ourselves to raise our children up in faith. We need to beg God to fill them up with His Spirit, to strengthen their souls, to draw them to Himself, to lead them in His paths, to teach them His truths and to instill in them a life-long love and passion for Him, and an unconditional love for all others.

Not only is this deep prayer an intercession to God on behalf of our children, but it is also rejuvenating and nourishing for our own souls. Spending time with God is like drinking a fantastically healthy fruit and veg smoothie – only better! It builds us up and strengthens us to resist Satan’s attempts to bring us down. Spending time in deep prayer is the best motivation I have found for helping me put into practice the ideals and ideas I have for my children.

The prayer jar, and a faithfully answered prayer 🙂

2)  Sprinkling prayers throughout the day.  It is important to include prayer throughout the day for both our own and our children’s sake. In our house, we try to pray in lots of different ways: together at our Bible snuggle time, stop what we are doing to pray if we hear of a specific need, pray at meal time, and pray at bedtime. Paul, in the book of 1 Thessalonians, says we should pray ‘continually’. I think what he means is that we should have a prayerful mindset. Prayer should be a first reaction to both good and bad situations. Thanking God and asking for His help should be second nature as we go about our daily activities.

There are also many creative ways of adding prayer into your daily life. I particularly like this idea as a way to help our children remember to pray for others. Another idea that we use is the ‘prayer jar’. Anyone can write a prayer or ‘letter’ to God, and put it into the jar. It is fun to look at them again later and see how faithfully God has answered the prayers we have prayed.

What ideas to you have to keep prayer a central part of your and your children’s lives?

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