Teaching Our Kids to Be Independent Learners
At True North Homeschool Academy we believe it is essential to create independent learners. We polled our amazing FaceBook Group Help Homeschooling High School and came up with some great tips and resources for you!
So how can you teach your children to be independent learners?
Let them fail
Amber Fonseca teaches Advanced Literary Analysis and Composition (CLEP Prep) for us at True North Homeschool Academy. She also blogs at The Journey of Life.
Amber’s advice, “ Let your kids fail. And then encourage them to assess, make changes and start again. Scientists and inventors fail way more than they succeed, but they don’t let the failure stop them. Even our President had to file bankruptcy…but look where he is now. Failure is not an end but a chance to begin again.”
As parents, we want to see our kids succeed- that is only natural. But allowing them to fail, and teaching them how to not get stuck in that failure, is just as important a skill as how to handle success! Assessment tools are a great way to evaluate successes and failures and can keep us moving towards our visions, mission, and goals, despite set-backs!
Christine Joseph reiterates that we must be willing to, “allow our kids to LOSE. One of the many lessons we learn by playing games are sharing, taking turns, following rules/instructions, how to compromise, empathy, being a good winner and a good loser. Using games allows kids to gain mastery in areas that they may be weak in. Allowing kids to create their own games (using the answer key) to play with other students benefits everyone. At Teaching with Games, most of our games are made with rules from time-tested, traditional games. Use our FREE custom Game Tool with your information.”
Let them be bored.
Jennifer Ann suggests, “it’s important for us to allow our kids time in their schedule to get bored, allow them time to shape what they study; by either helping design their own classes, make decisions about curriculum being used or by eliminating busy work.”
You can hear more of Jennifer Ann’s thoughts on this recording she made for Global Learn Day.
Teach your children life skills
Susan Brown shares important life skills your teen can learn including phone etiquette, laundry tips and more! Check those out here!
Dana Susan Beasley recommends, “help your students discover their passions and calling by giving them the opportunity to develop marketable skills. Think outside the job box and prepare them for a bright future by given them entrepreneurial skills.” You can check out Dana’s blog, Angel Arts, here.
Require your kids to do chores and big projects around your home. Our kids all know how to do the laundry, shopping, cooking and cleaning, along with drywalling, laying brick, floor and tile, garden and many other life skills. We’ve required them to work alongside us, partly out of necessity and partly by design and now they wow us with their domestic superpowers!
Let them pursue their passions
Merideth Duke suggests, “parents learn to say yes when our kids want to do something different, like beekeeping, or starting a small business…or writing books and self-publishing them. When kids find something that truly interests them, let them pursue it further. It could lead to a better education than you could plan. Successes, failure, planning, frustration, marketing, sales, etc.
My son has a successful small business as a beekeeper from 11 years old through high school. My daughter has written 4 books and self-published 3 of them. She ‘s pursuing a publisher for her 4th. She’s 16. Let them dream. Let them plan. Let them do it. Let them fail. Let them try harder. Let them succeed. You want your child to be an independent learner? Let them pursue a dream and see how much they can do.
It’s only the beginning to what they will learn to do on their own. In addition to that set goals and tests for the week that have deadlines. Check their work when it’s due. They learn consequence and rewards pretty fast when they see a passing grade or an “F”. Start small with short deadlines and easy assignment. Add as they get used to it. Lengthen the dates on big projects like research papers and have smaller deadlines to break it up so its’ not so overwhelming. By the time our kids were in high school they knew our routing. My son is now in college and working ahead because he knows how to plan accordingly.”
Travel is another great way to teach independence
The very act of travel expands and changes our paradigms. You don’t have to travel far (but that can be really fun too); be a tourist in your own area. Get to know the idiosyncrasies, unique features, and beloved landmarks well of your region well!
Read widely to and with your kids across time and geography. Magazines are an easy way to get unique views and perspectives and our assortment over the years has included but is not limited to National Geographic (+Kids), Ranger Rick, Ladybug, Cobblestone, Science News, Biblical Archeology Today, Artifax, The Economist, and World Magazine.
Encourage Self-Directed Learning
In my experience, one of the most effective and straightforward ways to create independent learners is to outsource some classes each year, beginning in Junior High. Preferably a class that meets regularly has homework, regular assessment, and grading and provides feedback to student and parent. Not all stress is bad and coupling creative, self-directed work with work that comes with external accountability and assessment teaches kids that sometimes we have to perform to a standard beyond ourselves. True North Homeschool Academy offers great classes, we do the grading for you, and our price is amazing!
In closing, I would also like to recommend the book Grit by Angela Duckworth. Great advice for teaching our kids how to set goals, keep them, fail well, accept disappointment, defeat, and failure and keep moving towards success and fulfilling their call and vision. Some kids are natural goal setters and some struggle with frustration. Teaching our kids to structure themselves is a great gift. Teaching our kids to fail, accept defeat, learning to de-brief and self-evaluate – these are all great skills to equip our young adults with so that they can move towards independence.
We’d love to hear from you! How do you teach your kids to become Independent Learners?