Helping Students Become Independent Learners
A large part of homeschooling is learning how to learn and one of the greatest perks is helping your students become independent learners. Despite the task being rather daunting to some, fostering independent learning in your student will help both you and them in the future. It is worth the time you put in now!
Begin developing independent learning with baby steps. Simply give a simple assignment or a type of assignment they have been given many times before (copy work, handwriting, math facts, etc.) and ask them to continue to work on it while you walk away. You can even ask them to come get you when they are done and remind them that you will be expecting them at a certain time or in a particular amount of minutes. Do this for a few weeks. This will begin helping them to learn to keep working even when you aren’t sitting at the table or in the same room.
Do the same as above, but give two assignments or lengthen the time you will be out of the room or away from the table. Remind your student that you are trusting them to do their work while you are not directly supervising them, but that you will be available for questions. This is also a good time for developing independent learning skills such as holding questions until you return. I ask my girls to skip a question they have in the math facts page and move on to the next one. I quickly return and help with whatever is troubling them, but this is teaching them the ability to know something is hard yet be able to move on and return to the problem when the time comes.
Slowly introduce the idea of an assignment page or notebook. If your kids have had you hold their hands through all of their educational experiences until now, this is a huge deal. Take your time pushing them into bigger ways. At the moment, I give my kids an assignment page with all of the tasks they need to do during the week. We keep it in view on the table while they work and they are learning to check off the task when they’ve done it. They enjoy seeing their accomplishment as the week progresses. For some children, Monday mornings and their weekly work load might seem too daunting at first. In that case, give them a daily view. Eventually let them see the week view, too.
A friend of mine gives her kids a clipboard with all sorts of random check-off boxes for each subject, chore, extra-curricular, and personal tasks they have to accomplish over the course of the week. She gives her kids authority to do it all in whatever order or speed they wish. She has found that sometimes they want to mix it up a little and do all of the math for the week in one day. Her kids decorate their assignment page and have fun locating all of the boxes throughout the week. She keeps the pages as part of her record system for year-end reviews.
As the kids get into middle and high school grades, let them see how you plan the year or semester. Give them a chance to help you sort out the number of lessons per textbook and decide how much they need to complete each week in order to finish by the time the school year ends. This is a great way of giving older children a little more authority (with your veto power, of course) in their academics. You can help them to manage their time now and imagine how good at it they will be in college, trade school, or the work force in the future!
Encouraging independent learning allows for our kids to manage their time and to develop a work ethic early in life, which will be a valuable asset to them in the future.