This post is from contributor, Judy Hoch
For many families, homeschooling means involving the whole family in learning. Unit studies, hands-on projects, living books, and other learning activities are all completed with mom and a group of siblings working together.
But what if a family wants–or needs–the children to do some learning on their own?
Independent learning, or learning without direct instruction from a teacher, is a valuable skill that each person uses throughout his entire life. It makes sense to encourage strong independent learning skills, even within a family learning environment.
4 Ways to Encourage Independent Learning in Your Homeschool
1. Clearly define expectations.
Knowing what is required is essential for independent learning. There are many different ways of approaching the issue of requirements.
- For younger children, parents will likely be setting specific goals: 2 pages in a math workbook, or 20 minutes of a favorite geography game, or completing 2 workboxes, for example.
- For older children, it may work well to assign weekly goals and allow the student to take responsibility for deciding how to meet those goals throughout the week.
- Teens and more mature children may benefit from setting and completing goals on their own, with appropriate parental guidance.
2. Start with the child’s strengths.
Using a child’s strengths as a starting point for independent learning gives him the best possible opportunity to succeed. This helps to free up the parent’s time for more one-on-one teaching in the subjects that the child finds more difficult.
3. Use methods suited to the child’s learning style.
Using the methods that most closely fit a child’s learning style will simplify the process for both parent and child.
For example, an auditory learner will probably be much more successful when learning from audiobooks rather than reading to himself. Likewise, a “hands-off” learner will learn more from reading a living book (or even a textbook) than by completing a fabulous project.
4. Be available for instruction and encouragement.
Independent learning does not mean that the parent is uninvolved in the learning process. Rather, the parent’s role changes from teacher to supervisor. Instead of teaching new information to the child, the parent is facilitating learning by providing the tools, and helping as needed, along the way.
Do your children enjoy working independently? How do you encourage independent learning in your homeschool?
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