One of my jobs as a mom is to train my children to be independent. To be able to take care of themselves. As a homeschool mom that job is two-fold. I also want to train my children to be learn independently. I want them to take control of their schedules and work on their own without me hovering over their shoulders.
I start training my little ones to be independent as early as possible. I allow them to help pick out their clothes. I let them help me fold clothes or put away the silverware. I let them be responsible for picking up their toys.
But, what does this independence look like in our school hours? Where do I even begin to ‘let it go’ so they can begin taking control of their own learning? Turning over control of their homeschool schedules is a HUGE step for this momma. So, we do it in small steps.
Train Your Homeschooler to Learn Independently
I am a little afraid at times of giving my kids more and more control over their schoolwork, but it’s important as the kids get older. However, I don’t just hand them my lesson plans and let them do what they will. I start with baby steps. It has taken me a long time to get to where we are today. Currently, Emma does about half of her school work – 7th grade – independently. And, we are always working toward even more independence.
It starts with baby steps. Allow your younger children to work independently on things they are good at. If your child is working on a handwriting page, watch them to see that they are forming their letters correctly. When you are confident that they can work independently, walk away. You don’t have to go far. Some children will take this opportunity to daydream so you’ll want to be there to redirect if necessary. But, you don’t need to sit beside them watching them form each letter.
Start with the things they’re good at – a little at a time. Then, slowly begin to add more and more to their list of independent work.
Supervise from Afar
Just because they are working independently doesn’t mean you have to be totally hands-off. You can and should check on their progress periodically. Periodically will look different depending on their ages.
You will want to check in (not hover) with your younger students more frequently than your older students. Right now, I check in with Emma (7th grade) about three times throughout our school day just to see where she is with her assignments. When I had a high schooler at home I checked in at the end of each day. I have seen other homeschool moms of older kids say that they can check in with their high schoolers at the end of each week because they’re students are so independent.
I look forward to the day when Emma is able to complete most of her school work on her own. For now, I enjoy her ability to work on a few subjects at a time by herself.
Know What to Hold On To
Some kids have subjects and tasks they just can’t do independently. For Emma, this is grammar. I have to work with her daily. We review orally before each lesson. We go over sample problems together before I give her an assignment. I have to check her work every night before we move on, or she will get lost. This may not change between now and high school. She may always need assistance to staying on top of the concepts. And, that’s okay.
Homeschooling allows me the freedom to guide her closely when necessary and the freedom to give her independence where I can. My goal is to make her the master of her own education. This will be necessary if she wants to go to veterinary school or even in the workplace where she will need to know how to manage tasks independently.
How are you working to foster independence in your children?
This post is part of my ABC’s of Homeschooling series! To read the entire series, visit my ABCs of Homeschooling page. I’ll add to this page each day as the posts go live.