Much like your children have responsibilities when learning in a school environment, so do they when learning at home. Allowing independence and assigning small but important responsibilities can help them learn to become self-sufficient when doing school work and encourage independent learning alongside your lessons and guidance.
They don’t need a lot of responsibility. In fact, chances are your children probably won’t recognize it as such. But that doesn’t mean they won’t learn from it in the future. Let’s look at 4 small and simple ways to give your children more responsibility for their own learning and education.
Ask, Don’t Tell
It can be easy to fall into the trap of telling your child everything they need to learn. Talking at children rarely results in anything productive. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions or ask them to elaborate on their questions. Even if they get the answer wrong, you can help get them to the right place by asking them for their input in how they reached that answer, why they think that is right and encouraging them to not only recognize when they get something right but to understand how they get there. The more you involve children, the easier it will be for them to learn something new.
My children learned pretty quickly that I would never just give them the answer. This would sometimes frustrate them, but they also learned not to come to me unless they had at least tried a little bit! They knew if they came to me, they’d be met with:
- show me where you are.
- what do you have so far?
- how did you get there?
- what do you think might be next?
- think of 2 possibilities, even if they sound silly.
- show me what the book says about this.
I find this really falls into one piece of parenting advice I found helpful: don’t do for your children what they can do for themselves. This is true of self care, household chores, cooking for the family and more. If you always do for them or give them the answers, you deprive them of the opportunities to learn and apply their knowledge. You also deprive them of the genuine satisfaction of accomplishment.
Asking for input when it comes to lesson planning can encourage excitement for the upcoming lesson. If you are due to start a new topic, try not to plan too far ahead and have some freestyle classes where your children can spend some time finding resources and topic ideas of material they would like to learn.
Finding books on the topic, downloading free resources as you find when you click here, or doing internet searches to come up with some interesting facts you can discuss in the next lesson often helps children learn better than doing all the planning for them. This will help encourage a can-do attitude and allow for less reliance on you as their teacher to provide all the information.
Allow for Mistakes
If your children never get anything wrong, how will they learn to correct mistakes? Allowing your children to self learn can mean you need to trust they are doing the work they are supposed to be doing. However, this leaves room for errors. But making mistakes can provide ample learning experiences and the chance to identify gaps in their knowledge or skills to correct this with them. Being wrong is also humbling and can be a challenge for some children. Learning it is NOT the end of the world and that they are NOT expected to know everything perfectly is a huge lesson for some.
For some children, the end of a topic or subject isn’t always a done deal. In some cases, they may have questions that haven’t been answered or may want to delve into the topic a little bit more than you anticipated.
Allowing your children to ask questions and have them answered shows them how to fill in any gaps they feel they have in their learning. Curiosity is never a bad thing when it comes to education. Being able to allow them to learn as much as they need to can help them find ways to satisfy their curiosity during lesson time or to take away and learn some more in their own time. Realize that they are going to have to start making their own decisions and learning at their own pace at some point anyway. You want to make sure that they are properly prepared for when this happens, such as when the college search starts. It might be a while off yet, but if you’re flexible now, you will teach them how to make the best decisions later.
Like “Ask, Don’t Tell” above, we want our kids to be independent learners and do-ers. My goals as a homeschool mom is to make sure my kids know HOW to learn on their own and take ownership of their education. So be sure to let them take ownership!