What Is An Interest Led Education?



The whole idea of an interest led education is very intriguing to me.  

What exactly is an Interest Led Education, anyway?   Dare I say it is similar to UNSCHOOLING?     

In our family, interest led education means letting my children take charge of their learning.  

  Before you start getting excited and thinking I let my children make all of their educational decisions, let me tell you that as their parents their father and I decided the CORE of what they will learn.   We realize, however, that there are times when they will be passionate about something.   During these times it is my job to facilitate their interests and provide the tools to learn more.   

I don't want my children to have to wait until college to pursue what it is that really interests them!    Maybe some tangent that we take now when they are young will turn into a life-long passion.    

I read a great post the other day at Interest-Led Learning, called 8 Ways to Provide An Interest-Led Learning Home.    When I think about the environment I want to provide for my children, this is it.   It's a great resource, so please click over (I have some time to wait while you read....)
I had a lot of fun helping my children create their own unit studies, if you will, to explore what interested them.   As I look back on our year, some examples of interest led education are (click on all the links to see my posts from these times, too!):
  • We started off the year (to get my little guy excited) by designing a huge unit study about baseball... it turned into a family project and we all learned SO MUCH.     (It has spanned this entire year!)  
  • My daughter wanted to learn to knit and machine sew/quilt.... we incorporated this with a book we read for a local homeschool literature fair.    We spent A LOT of time learning these skills.    I didn't know how to do either of these things, but found people who could help my daughter... I was merely the facilitator! This wasn't in my "plan" for the year, but I'm so glad we went off on the tangent! 

  • We went on vacation to the beach and my children found lots of shells.  When we returned home, instead of continuing with our "plan" for science, we stopped for a couple of weeks and immersed ourselves in seashells, using a Download 'N Go Unit Study.    This study led to the children wanting a Hermit Crab, so we spent lots of time learning about Hermit Crabs!   

  • We were all interested in space (after a big study in the fall) and on our vacation decided (spur of the moment, which really isn't what we usually do!) to go and see a Space Shuttle Launch at Cape Canaveral.   Wow - is all I can say! I love what Christina said in the above-referenced article:   "Instead of getting the latest TV or upgrading your car every few years, why not use that money to travel more?" 
Image Courtesy United States Air Force
  • Most recently my son was OBSESSED with dinosaurs -- we took off with that and created a dinosaur lapbook and went on a spectacular field trip!   

It seems like we provide our children a framework for learning.   Many things are NOT up to my children to decide.  I choose the math program, history program, etc...     I want to, however, seize the opportunity to let my children explore what interests them.  Isn't this why we do what we do in the first place?

Do you believe in interest led education?    Do you have some examples you can share with me?