37 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Delight-Directed!

student led schooling

What is Delight-Directed Homeschooling?

Delight-directed homeschooling can be a remedy for mid-winter burnout, but it can also be an all-the-time homeschooling style. It is a method of education that allows your children to explore what they love and work at a flexible pace, ebbing and flowing with each new bunny trail.

To those thinking along the lines of traditional schooling (ie, government schools), it may seem that the student isn’t really learning anything, but not only will your student be learning…they’ll be learning far more than you could have imagined! It’s about depth…not breadth. The topics can vary through the year, jumping around, or they can stay fairly focused.

Delight-directed schooling is very similar to the unit study method, but tends to go even deeper than a typical unit study. Let your student be the guide!

Learning through Literature

Literature studies are so much more FUN!  As an added bonus, because they incorporate knowledge through relating to a character and / or story, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

What are living books, and how can you use them to make your homeschool shine? Get all the tips & tricks in Using Living Books to Homeschool.

Novel studies can be used to cover concepts from language arts and history to science and math.  It’s been our students’ preferred learning method for years, and we’ve created well over one hundred of them! Here are just a few of the odd topics that cropped up as a result of their delight-directed learning…

  • Fever 1793 + Epidemics in World History
  • Willa of the Wood + Basic Foraging
  • Shouting at the Rain + Severe Weather
  • Nick & Tesla + Nikola Tesla / Electricity
  • The Golem & the Jinni + Kabbalah unit
  • Charlie Hernandez + Hispanic Mythology
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham & Civil Rights
  • My Side of the Mountain & Wilderness Survival
  • Serafina and the Splintered Heart & Writing a Ghost Story
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins & Introduction to Sailing
  • Finding Langston & the Poetry of Langston Hughes
  • Motel of the Mysteries & Archaeology
  • Caroline’s Comet & Astronomy
  • Writing Fantasy with the Hobbit
  • Crime and Punishment & Free Will vs Determinism
  • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein


Some students learn better through audio, rather than reading. Audiobooks are a fantastic way to incorporate literature unit studies, without taxing struggling readers to frustration. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t keep working on reading, but sometimes a work-around is in order…

Specialized Topics

When students are REALLY into a topic, they’ll even begin to educate you. You never know what you’re going to be learning each day as a homeschooling parent! These bundles help dive into some very specific interests…

In-depth Classes

The classes at Sparks Academy utilize literature, videos, and student interaction to study science, language arts, history, geography, character, writing, and literary concepts. This online co-op includes weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

Try-It-Out Deals

delight directed learning

Using Living Books to Homeschool

When you were a kid, did you learn more from textbooks or from reading books just for fun? I definitely learned a lot more from historical fiction than from any history textbook!

Trying to recreate public school at home, right down to the textbooks, is something new homeschoolers often do (especially those pulling students out of school). But, by using living books in your homeschool, coupled with family-style learning, it can be so much more FUN and rewarding.  Plus, when you use living books in your homeschool, your students are apt to retain more once the year ends. 

What is a Living Book?

Living books are reading material that pull you into a subject and get you emotionally involved with the characters (a la chapter books), so it’s easier to remember the events and facts.  These books literally bring the event(s) they are talking about to life with storylines and imagination! When is the last time a textbook made you feel alive and invested in what was being studied? Probably never.

Living Books….

  • Allow the reader to visit another era and experience the culture or history.  During the ‘Rona, one of the books we read together was Fever 1793. We like to take our read-alouds and turn them into learning units, like this one, to reinforce concepts learned in the story.
    • TIP: If you’re using read-alouds as a base for school, it’s helpful to read multiple books about the same event. Having different perspectives helps students to learn critical thinking skills.
  • Put the reader into the book.  This allows your children to experience different cultures and places that they may not otherwise see. The more detailed the descriptions, the more vividly your child will relate, and it is through learning about and relating to other cultures that we break down barriers.
    • TIP: Cultural literacy is learning about other perspectives, including across genders, world regions, and historic eras. It is helpful if you have some background knowledge to incorporate the protagonist’s perspective — so if you are going to read a book set during the Civil War, do a bit of research on the Civil War before reading the novel. It will help bring the story to life!

Benefits of Family-Style Reading

Reading together as a family helps to encourage a lifelong love of reading and literature. Whether you begin when your child is a newborn or as a teen, there are so many positive effects!  

Note to parent: If you do not start reading aloud until your child is a teen, there will be a transitional time as they become accustomed. Do not give up!

Tips for Using Living Books as Read-Alouds

1. Do the voices

Sure, you might feel goofy at first, but nothing gets children engaged in a story faster than having a different voice for each character! Through the years, we’ve had many a good laugh as mom tried to pull off several accents, with varying degrees of success. But you know what? They remember the stories!

2. Let them be active

Legos, play-do, and coloring books are great quiet activities to keep hands occupied while ears are listening. It never hurts to pause and ask a few questions, but you’ll probably find that they are more engaged than you think.

3. Read from many genres

Mix it up, with historical fiction from multiple eras, contemporary fiction, and the occasional non-fiction.

4. Keep a home library

Yard sales, Facebook groups, and consignment stores are a great place to scout used books. Even if your child is a toddler, when you find a classic piece for a few years down the road, go ahead and snag it. A good home library will encompass many different topics and genres, including both fiction and non-fiction books.

5. Read every day

Whether you read for five minutes or an hour, set aside some time each and every day to read.  We get it…busy days mean shorter reading times.  But it’s too easy to get out of the habit, so make it a priority!  If necessary, use an audiobook to do the reading in the car.

6. Pass the book

If your children are old enough, take turns reading. Keep it age-level appropriate and for short lengths of time. When my children started reading aloud with the family, they read one paragraph at a time, then a page, and then a full chapter.

7. Read at level AND below level

As an adult, do you only read collegiate-level and above books? Neither do I. Sometimes it’s nice to settle in with a fun book, regardless of the target age range. For struggling readers, this can help them feel more successful, too, as they build those skills.

8. Use picture books.

In the non-fiction realm, picture books are an excellent way to help illustrate and explain difficult concepts… I’m looking at you, science! But also understand that not every book needs pictures. Not having pictures in a book allows children to stretch their imaginations and come up with those mental images.

Choosing Quality Books

As with everything in life, there is yin and yang. When choosing living books for read-alouds, or as a base for studies, keep in mind that not all books are “good” books.  “Good” books…

  • Have realistic characters. They are flawed. They live in the real world. But they often learn to overcome their flaws during the story.
  • Teach a moral lesson. Whether through acceptance or overcoming, the protagonist learns some sort of character lesson in the story.
  • Are engaging. These are not dry reads, but intriguing plots full of details that will keep the reader hooked and involved.

“Bad” books…

  • Are not real world. In these books, everything is awesome. Or horrible. There are no real-life events. Or they are overly moralistic.
  • Are poorly written. With poor grammar and speech (we’re not talking about the use of dialects, which can add to the authenticity), these books do more harm than good for your student’s mastery of language arts.
  • Have poor characters. They are boring, self-absorbed, and do not learn anything through the story.

Using Living Books to Study Core Subjects

Sparks Academy

The language arts classes at Sparks Academy utilize five to six novels each year to teach history, geography, character, and literary concepts. Each of the four levels builds upon the last, until students are ready to write in any form requested of them – whether at a career or college!  There are four levels offered currently, including High School 1High School 2High School 3, and Level 7(The last one is for 7th/8th/9th grade, depending on your student’s skills.) This is an online co-op, with weekly student interaction in the private classroom forum. Learn more here.

How to Begin Homeschooling in Oklahoma

Oklahoma is considered to be loosely regulated in terms of homeschool laws.  Oklahoma law does not require parents to register with or seek approval from state or local officials, conduct state testing with their students, or permit public school officials to visit or inspect homes.  

beginning to homeschool
  • If you want to start homeschooling and your child is not yet enrolled, you do not need to do anything. 
  • If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, you need to formally withdraw your child from that school.
  • If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, you should withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant. 
  • Some schools may have you sign a form that releases them from the responsibility of educating the student and also stating that you are assuming full responsibility for the education of your child.

The compulsory age to begin school is five, so children between the ages of 5 and 18 years old must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws.  The state law says homeschoolers should school at least 180 days per calendar year, with at least six hours per day.

As an Oklahoma home educator, you have the freedom to choose the subjects, curricula, and educational methods that will guide your homeschool plans.  Required school subjects under Oklahoma law include: reading, writing, math, science, citizenship, Oklahoma history, United States constitution, health, safety, physical education, and conservation.

While you do not have to be a certified teacher to homeschool, the instruction provided must be supplied in good faith and must be equivalent to the education provided by the state.  Although not required by law, it is recommended that academic progress be recorded via attendance records, information on textbooks used, samples of schoolwork, portfolios, and test results.

If you are uncomfortable or unprepared to do the leg work to teach a particular subject, consider outsourcing it. This is particularly true for upper grades and advanced level work.

Schools are not required to furnish textbooks, resources, or other materials to home schooled students.  They are also not required to allow student to participate in extracurricular activities.  Homeschooled students are also not eligible to receive special education services from the school district.

Finally, homeschooled students are required to take a standardized test upon re-entry to the public school system to determine grade placement and / or course credits. However, the requirements are extremely stringent, and most public school officials will tell you that, if you intend to send the student to public high school, they should begin as a freshman. There have been many instances of students having to start their high school career anew as a freshman, so plan accordingly if at all possible.

For more information, visit the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.

Essential Reading List for High School Girls

After polling several homeschooling families on what they thought was the one must-read book for high school girls, we’ve put together a list of thirty-two books that all girls should read in middle and high school.   They include old classics and new favorites, and have lots of character-building lessons, too! Parents should always preview books first….many of these are only appropriate at the high school level.

Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre

L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables series

Pam Munoz Ryan

Riding Freedom

Jerry Spinelli


Gene Stratton-Porter

A Girl of the Limberlost

Julie Berry

Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

Audrey & Jeremy Rolloff

A Love Letter Life

Margaret Mitchell

Gone With the Wind

Jane Austen

Pride & Prejudice

Robin Jones Gunn

Christy Miller series

Corrie ten Boom

The Hiding Place

Bruce Wilkinson

The Dream Giver

Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter

Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale

Louisa May Alcott

Rose in Bloom

Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Maud Hart Lovelace

Emily of Deep Valley

Nancy Demoss Wolgemouth

Lies Young Women Believe

Brené Brown

Daring Greatly

George Orwell


Louisa May Alcott

Little Women series

Mabel Hale

Beautiful Girlhood

Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning

Robert T. Kiyosaki

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights

Henry Cloud

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

Og Mandino

The Greatest Salesman in the World

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Women Who Run with the Wolves

Mary Pipher

Reviving Ophelia

Jordan Christy

Dave Ramsey

How to be a Hepburn in a Kardashian World: the Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace

Total Money Makeover

Download your Essential Reading List here!

For more literature resources, check out SchoolhouseTeachers! It includes all classes, for all grades…and it’s one price for the entire family. There are many different learning styles to select from, so if you have one visual kid who needs a relaxed pace and one aural kid who needs a more stringent pace, there are classes that will fit them each. With over 475 classes available, plus extras for mom and dad, this is my favorite resource to offer new families wanting to dip their toe into homeschooling! You may also like…

Essential Reading List for High School Boys

Boys tend to fall staunchly into the ‘reader’ or ‘non-reader’ category.  Sometimes it just takes a little push toward more action-packed, exciting, adventure-filled stories to move them from one category to the other!  We’ve put together a list of thirty-two books that all boys should read in middle and high school.   Not only are they full of adventure (which they’ll love), but they have lots of character-building lessons, too! Parents should always preview books first….many of these are only appropriate at the high school level.

Rudyard KiplingJust So Stories
L. Frank BaumThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Robert WestallThe Machine Gunners
Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time
Theordore TaylorThe Cay
Jack LondonCall of the Wild
S.E. HintonThe Outsiders
William GoldingLord of the Flies
Mary StewardThe Crystal Cave
Robert HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land
Mark TwainAdventures of Tom Sawyer
HomerThe Odyssey
Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird
John KnowlesA Separate Peace
Erich Maria RemarqueAll Quiet on the Western Front
Thor HyerdahlKon-Tiki
Claude BrownManchild in the Promised Land
Michael ShaaraThe Killer Angels
F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby
Earnest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises
George Orwell1984
Ken KeseyOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Woody GuthrieBound for Glory
Gary PaulsenHatchet
Patrick O’BrianMaster and Commander
Robert Penn WarrenAll the King’s Men
E.M. ForsterA Passage to India
Fyodor DostoevskyThe Brothers Karamazov
Richard  YatesRevolutionary Road
James CainThe Postman Always Rings Twice
Sebastian JungerThe Perfect Storm

Download your Essential Reading List here!

For more literature resources, check out SchoolhouseTeachers! It includes all classes, for all grades…and it’s one price for the entire family. There are many different learning styles to select from, so if you have one visual kid who needs a relaxed pace and one aural kid who needs a more stringent pace, there are classes that will fit them each. With over 475 classes available, plus extras for mom and dad, this is my favorite resource to offer new families wanting to dip their toe into homeschooling! 

You may also like…

Shack Diaries

What IS the Book SHACK?

  • Sooner Homeschool Angels Curriculum Koop (yes, we know co-op doesn’t start with a K…but it worked)
  • We are a cooperative homeschool organization, which means that everyone works together. You may volunteer time, donate curricula, or donate funding to help cover utilities / supplies. While we are extending the ministry of the Book Samaritan, we will be changing how things were run. We will not be mailing supplies – hence it is now an Oklahoma co-op – you will have to come to the ‘storefront.’ As things progress, we will post here. Our projected opening date for the ministry is December / January.

Summer 2022 – Reopen under new name, the Script’morium.

November 2020 – Closed. Under re-construction.

June 2016 :  Closing out the Book Samaritan and starting the move

 July 2017 :  Back-to-School Night and sharing books with families

Please remember that, while we are centrally located in Oklahoma, this ministry is available to all co-ops across the state and (hopefully soon) nationwide.  We were at our local homeschool co-op’s back-to-school night, but it is not a ministry just for them…it is for all homeschoolers and new teachers.

Our First Event (the one where we have to drastically downsize due to no building availability yet…..)

We love hearing comments like this!!!!!!

These are our busy little bees!  

They used to go work up at the Book Samaritan with us twice a year, helping the owners to organize books and keep things in order.  

Then, in the summer of 2016, they moved 65 truckloads of books…stacked from side to side, floor to as high as they could safely go.  These were some tired little puppies, but I think they deserve a lot of credit (hence the trip to Medieval Times) for helping to get the Book Shack up and going.

We also had a few helpers from our local co-op, who could come for a day and help move things around.  All told, it took four weeks to move items from the Book Samaritan in Pawhuska, Oklahoma down to our new home in Prague, Oklahoma.  

And then we found out that our 501(c)3 wasn’t coming through.  We lost our new home and had to immediately downsize (just like if you were foreclosed upon) – losing 95% of the items we had managed to salvage.  It was a bad week…

Well, it was a long week for us.  It was a good week for the 100+ families that we were able to help in our big “homeschoolers helping homeschoolers” event!!

Following that, we had some health issues to deal with, while at the same time continuing to get all of the paperwork straightened out.  We’ve also spruced up the website a little bit – adding tabs across the top of the page that will answer many of your questions.

Now that it’s come to fruition, can you imagine just how happy these little faces are about knowing that their Spring Break will be spent doing none other than……………….moving books?  😯

Let’s give a hand for our very best helpers!!!

If you’re not sure what you’re looking at…that would be our 501(c)3 non-profit status letter.  

They say that ”it takes money to make money,” but the truth is that it takes money to help other people, too.  As much as we’d like to never have to ask for donations and financial support, that’s just not realistic.  Therefore, after much debate, we found a few ways that will allow you to support the Book Shack without having to stretch your budget even further.

Where do these donations go?  

They are used for :

  • boxes & packing material
  • packing tape
  • blank paper & shipping labels
  • light bulbs
  • bookshelves
  • staples, clips & other binding materials
  • *postage for recipients

(*= We are currently unable to offer this, due to having no operating costs at this time.  See policies for more information on how postage is currently being covered.)

We spent the day at BiblioMania Homeschooling Materials in Tulsa forging new friendships!! 

They have been so wonderful to help us as we get started and continue to work to get this organization up and running smoothly!  

If you’re in Oklahoma or NW Arkansas, you should definitely check them out for this semester’s materials.  

About BiblioMania

The store

 was founded in Tulsa, OK, in 1992, and is a unique source for gently used homeschooling materials on consignment. With dozens of years of homeschooling experience under their belts, the ladies who run the store have a wealth of information and encouragement, and will cheerfully answer your homeschooling curriculum questions!  (They’ll also provide hugs and strength when you’re ready to throw in the towel.)


If you’re going to visit the store, be aware that it’s in the back corner of a strip mall.  It looks something like the pic on the right.  Here is their contact information :

12929 E 21st St Suite I

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Phone : (918) 438-9889

Our little helpers loaded up even MORE books and were ready for a rest on the long ride home!  I think that they, more than anyone else, will be happy when the organization has a permanent home and the boxes no longer need to be lugged around!  LOL

We’re having a fundraiser this weekend….and it’s going to be HUGE!  We’re talking seven truckloads of items….from several different houses….so you know there’ll be something for everyone!  Come on out….bring your friends & family….and if you have an hour or two, sit a spell and take a volunteer shift.   AND we made the paper.  It’s been a busy week!  😊

After over fourteen long months of dragging books around and storing them in garages, we have finally found a home for the Book Shack!

Wings as Eagles Christian bookstore, in Prague, has graciously offered us a space above their store to use.  It is upstairs, so be prepared.  If you have a physical disability, we will work with you to get you the materials you need.

To find the Book Shack, look for the Wings as Eagles store – on the corner of Hwy 99 and 9th Street – then look for the antique-barred door just to the right.  That’s where you’ll enter!  Head upstairs to Room C, and come on in!  (Moving to Shawnee as of April 2019)

We received some VERY big donations last week, which is AMAZING!!!   We are so grateful for the community of folks who are working together to help each other out.  😃

Within these donations were many items that are more appropriate for a classroom setting, including math manipulatives, games, classroom reproducibles, classroom posters, reading books (like for a classroom library), and a few other things that are more appropriate for classrooms than homeschool.

These items are still available for any of our homeschool families that come to visit (though they cannot be mailed, as they cannot go media mail rate), but we have such a surplus, and these are the types of things that classroom teachers need for their classrooms, so we decided to partner up with the local school district and invite public school teachers to come and pick out items that they need for their classrooms.

On Monday and Wednesday of our July opening dates, both homeschool and classroom teachers will be able to visit the Shack to ‘treasure hunt.’  Depending on how well this event goes, we may open up the Shack to teachers again next summer.