I once heard a mom say, "I really need to teach my child music because all he ever does is play bluegrass, and bluegrass isn't real music." I almost laughed out loud! Bluegrass music is real music, of course! It's possible for kids to learn things JUST because they love it! Your job as a parent is to pick up the "mess" they leave behind, and turn it into a wonderful course description of what they have learned! I think that's the best kind of learning. It's called "delight directed learning."
Delight directed learning is when a person pursues learning about a topic because they take great delight in it, and not just because it's a required course. It makes learning more fun for students, and easier for parents.
When you're looking for resources, parents have unlimited choices when it comes to delight directed learning. Make sure you include a curriculum that covers all the basics for sure - you can't skimp on reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. But you also want to look for curriculum that will encourage your child's passion! If they love art, music, or science, remember to buy those! If they ask for microbiology, or economics, or Russian History, follow their interests and get it for them.
How can you encourage a passion in your child without making it into a school subject?
1. Find a mentor.
2. Don't work ahead.
3. Avoid making tests.
4. Follow behind and scoop up credits.
Encourage your child in their interests by finding mentors through clubs and colleges. For instance, if your child has an interest in birds, you can search for "ornithology clubs" to find a group. You can find mentors by contacting small, friendly colleges for a helpful professor. Ask around at church and other community groups to see if you can find an adult with the same interests.
It took a LONG time asking around before we found an economics mentor for our son, Alex. The first two we tried weren't a good fit, but they eventually led to a great professor who took Alex under his wing. Ask yourself, if you had that interest as an adult, how would YOU find a way to meet like-minded people?
Of course, this also means you have to go with your child, drive them, wait for them... all the inconvenient things that happen to parents who encourage their children's interests. Sorry about that! I got to be good friends with my barista during those years of my life!
You can also search curriculum catalogs for books and curriculum your child seems to love. My son ASKED for the Sonlight American Government curriculum when he was young, just because he was interested. Let your child look through the catalogs.
Going back to birds, I know that National Geographic can be a good place to start. Watch videos and listen for clues about how to get involved while your child is just enjoying the content.
Don't work ahead of your child by preparing tests or worksheets. You don't have to assess them with tests, just record what they are doing and discussing. Allow them to write school papers on the topic of their choice. If they produce some high school level writing on the subject they love, then you can include it in the documentation of the class. I tried to give my children their choice of writing topics. Toward the end of the year I would have to say, "Ok, but this time NOTHING on economics or American history!"
Follow along behind your child as they enjoy their interests. Try to capture what you can for class documentation ... writing, drawings, work experiences, records of group meetings, etc. Grab samples of what they do for fun, without forcing them to do anything. When the year is done, you can group all the delight directed learning experiences together and compile it into a course description.
In the Comprehensive Record Solution, you can see examples of "Self-Directed Courses" my kids did in our homeschool. Critical Thinking, Public Speaking, Occupational Education, and Russian History were on Kevin's record. My other son had self-directed courses in Economics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Business Law, Psychology, and Principles of Marketing.
Learn more in my Coffee Break Kindle book, Delight Directed Learning.
You will also enjoy my free, downloadable ebook, How to Put Fabulous Fun on Your Homeschool Transcript.
It's possible for kids to learn things JUST because they love them. And parents can pick up the "mess" they leave behind and turn it into a wonderful course description to explain what their kid has accomplished!