Homeschool Reflections: The Path to Independent Learning
This post is sponsored by Notgrass Company. All thoughts are my own.
Guiding children to be independent learners is one of the great benefits of home education. They are able to be more proactive when choosing which topics that they want know more about at any given time. My daughters have been on the road to independent learning since their younger days when they first expressed their independence by selecting which clothes and shoes they would wear. This simple task gave them the proof they needed to know that their thoughts and voices mattered. As a mother, I have followed their lead by helping them to be more independent not simply in the daily tasks of life, but also in their education.
Key Steps on the Road to Independent Learning
I've learned that my daughters will be more independent in the areas of learning that they are most interested. My oldest daughter knows a great deal about history and as you all may know she didn't get this information from her homeschool teacher because history is my weakest subject. Her knowledge about history comes from her own desire to know historical facts about the people who have lived before her. In order to somewhat guide my daughter, I ask her often about what she would like to know more about then I use the information she has provided me with to make sure the resources she need are available. I also ask questions to show interest in her interests. Have you ever seen someone come alive because they are sharing with you something they are passionate about? By asking questions, she is able to share with me about her interests at the time. If she doesn't know the answer to my question, this encourages her to find out more about the topic.
Our homeschool day is only about four hours each day which gives both of my daughters plenty time to explore, read, and engage with new information. I've learned that short steady lessons are most beneficial in our homeschool versus drawn out lessons that seem to stuff all the information in one seating. My daughters rarely retain much from stuffing sections. Now some of our lessons can be extended longer than our short chunks if there is a true interest about the topic. They know that their learning time is not limited by a schedule. They have the opportunity to work alone if desired. They have the opportunity to work on lessons in the order in which they choose. My oldest daughter has a strong desire for independence. This has been true from the beginning. Since this is part of her, I decided early on to work with this desire versus against even if it means mistakes will happen. She loves math, but there are some mathematical topics that take her a minute to grasp. Although this is true, she still wants to begin all of her lessons independently. The teacher in me simply wants to show her the right way initially, but the teacher in me also knows that she will learn from her mistakes so I give her space to make her mistakes which hopefully makes the learning richer.
It's hard to learn new things if you don't have resources nearby. Although I am not a history buff, our bookshelves have quite a few historical nonfiction and fiction books for my daughter who loves it. For my science-focused daughter, she has plenty of books about animals, the human body, and space to help her answer questions that she might have plus there is access to the internet. Whatever your weakest subject is I would highly recommend using a curriculum to ensure that your homeschoolers aren't missing out due to your lack of knowledge. Since history is my weakness, we use Notgrass History. We've used America the Beautiful and Uncle Sam and You. Neither of my daughters are missing out on history or getting a limited view because of my lack of knowledge instead they are learning about historical events and the way our government works in detail.
Teaching our children to be independent thinkers and learners will take time, but by engaging with them about their favorite topics, giving them space to learn, and providing the resources they need our children are well on their way to being independent.