I have been given written permission from “Laura” and “Elle” to use their experience, photos and messages in this post. Names have been changed to protect their identity.





Delight directed education is so profoundly disconnected from the typical public and private school models that parents often have an extremely difficult time introducing it into their homeschools. We understand the concept, we even understand that it will inherently educate our children better and with more intellectual understanding than that of our previous education model, but what we do NOT know is what it looks like, feels like and moves like.  We don’t know the logistics, if you will, let alone how to implement the “radical”  new method in our own homes.

Compounding the problem, not only do we, as parents have difficulty bringing it into play, so too do our older students. Our eldest children find it unfamiliar and at times, quite daunting.  This is a foreign land where delight is promised and education is the goal.  How does that even work?! Can those two words co-exist? Sure! Say some of our kids, Pick one…Fantasy land or fairy land?


So the questions become, “Where do I start?” and “How is this work even supposed to LOOK!?  The unknowns are enough to stop the process before it has even had a moment to blossom.

Recently, “Laura,” asked for my opinion about how to bring this style of education to bear fruit for her family.

She has a fantastically bright, 15 -year-old daughter, “Elle” who is strong, kind, and intelligent. “Elle” has recently begun Delight Directed learning through the use of Thinking Tree Journals and Portfolios.  The road to true delight, however, was proving to be quite bumpy and “Laura” was beside herself.

“Hey, Shelly! First, let me say thanks for answering my question today. It gave me somewhere to start…. I have a follow-up question…I was going through her book and getting ideas… She did pick cooking but she also picked off the wall topics like aliens and serial killers. So we are going with it….Also, what do you do with this?”

(“This” is about the “before” photos above and below)

The answer lies in the fact that “Elle” was used to fill-in-the-blank answers and “Laura” was used to assigning textbooks to read.  “Laura” was expecting “Elle” to write notes about her course work so that is how the Thinking Tree Journal was being used.  Hmmm…


Delight Directed does not just happen with the existence of these books in our homes.  There actually has to be an interest in a specific subject that will naturally spark research and discovery until that spark dies out and another one takes its place.

Elle would dutifully read her text but rather than take notes or chronicle her thoughts about the text in her journals, she would answer the questions literally, as she had been conditioned to do in her schooling career. (Like the photos to the right and left/above)

Back To “Laura’s” Question….”What do I do with “this”?

My answer …

“Documentaries. She can watch documentaries and take bullet point notes or write about the serial killers and their mental diagnoses. Maybe how they became that way. Her answers look a lot like my son Brisan’s when he was that age. She may be more of a “doer” rather than a writer. Bullet point answers, straight to the point, no fluff. Also, ask her if she would like to take photos instead of Illustrate the answers, or maybe start a free website/blog to write about the subjects that she is studying. If she chooses that, she can also post her photos in the blog post and you can have the blog made into a book at blog-to-print each semester or at the end of the school year.”  I also added these three ideas to use instead of textbooks… Forensics and Genetics

“Laura’s” reply: “Thanks for the advice. She does like photography and videos. Her favorite is editing. So maybe we can incorporate that in somehow.”

Let the work begin. “Laura” took some of my ideas and added her own flare to their budding new, homeschool program. Her ideas and the results are as follows.

  1. She asked her daughter what she did and did not like.
  2. She took her own notes (mental or otherwise) during their conversation.
  3. She put her daughter’s curiosity into action via activities.
  4. She found a CSI Kit full of experiments on Amazon.
  5. The answers that her daughter gave to her were taken at face value so that “Laura” was able to create an Individual Education Plan that worked for her beautifully, individual daughter!
  6. “Laura,” asked her daughter to research note taking, both bullet-point note-taking and other methods.
  7. The next day she told “Elle” to put her books away and watch a documentary about serial killers.

This is the note I got from “Laura” during this growing process.

“I so wish you could have seen her face this morning when I told her to put her books away and watch a documentary about a serial killer. I told her to apply the note taking skilled she learned yesterday. She asked me “What is wrong with you? You’re telling me not to do school and to learn about serial killers.” 😂😂😂 I had to explain that it’s about the note taking skills and research skills, not so much the topic. That by picking a topic that she will enjoy, she will learn those skills better.After I explained the goal, she did it, no argument. She even skyped with a friend (who is also homeschooled) about what she had learned.She’s now transferring her rough notes into her journal now. Yay! Just had to share. ☺

I got a kick out of that message, for so many reasons.

1. Elle thought she wasn’t “doing” school.

2. Elle was DELIGHTED!

3. Delight Directed Education prompted note taking, a deeper interest in the science “Elle” is interested in and a phone call to a friend.

What’s not to love about that message?!

The last message about this topic was sent to me a few days ago.

“Yesterday, when my husband got home, I told him about our day. I betted him that if he asked her about what she learned, she would be able to recall most of what she had learned if not all of it. So when he asked her what she learned, she started spilling out information. There was that spark in her eye all over again. Then he asked her what she learned Tuesday. Her answers were stuff like “Science experiments, I don’t know”. She had read it. But because she wasn’t interested, she didn’t retain any of the information. She was just going through the motions.

My husband is so on board with this approach too, especially after seeing the difference in her last night. We just smiled at each other listening to her talk because there was so much passion in her voice. She was excited to tell what she had learned. Who knows, she may become a crime scene investigator or a criminal profiler. ☺


With results like this, what else is there to say? The answers are…

  1. Let the student pick their passion.
  2. Let them study it.
  3. It doesn’t have to be a textbook education.

I would love to hear about your journey to Delight Directed Education!

How did your child find their spark?

Please feel free to send me a private message on Facebook or share your story in the comments below.