As a mother, I have always known how great the value is, in training my children to work independently, to be self directed. I don’t think I ever qualified as the “helicopter” mom type – even when my first was born. I want my children to know that when they need me, I am absolutely there for them, but I also encourage them to be resourceful, independent and sure of themselves. I want secure and confident kids, able to think for themselves 🙂
I admit that thus far (with my oldest son) its become such a struggle that it is just easier to expect very little from him. Set the bar low because after all, the character and initiative he has displayed so far hasn’t been very promising. But then I am reminded that he cannot believe in himself if he sees that we do not believe in him. No matter how hard it may be, however impossible to seems, if we believe they can’t (or won’t) learn what needs to be learned, independently, they will never succeed. We have given up before we even began.
We have little ones too and they need to be a part of all of this as well; we try to encourage helpfulness and a personal investment in their family, early on. In this way we can help them to develops a sense of responsibility. One great example can be found from Amy at Raising Arrows to help with Teaching Kitchen Skills all listed by age. As for those little ones, this is a free printable for Reading Directions with Independence. And back to Amy of Raising Arrows, you can see here how she Raises Independent Learners using a neat system with index cards.
Impossible as it seems, we are making a plan. Together. I have goals for him, I want him to have goals for himself. I often have to find the answers to things, teach myself new skills. I want him to see how great it is to be able to locate those answers and learn new things on his own. I am also encouraging him to give me input and ideas for any additional subjects he could explore during his school day. Got a question? Let me surround my children with the tools they need to find the answers.
My oldest son has so many interests. He gets bored easily – he learns a little something about one topic and instantly moves on to the next thing. I always saw this as him needing to focus more; to dig in deeper. But then I was reminded by someone the other day, he is only 9 – He needs to be free to get into as many different topics as he feels led to explore. Some will stick and others will come and go. We cannot find our passion, we cannot develop interests and hobbies and skills if we do not have the chance to try, even if its just once, whatever we are curious about at the time (within reason of course!).
This year he wants to explore more art and photography, get back to his guitar and keyboard. He is curious about geocaching and letter boxing too. I am not so familiar with all of the hows and whys of this so we have some exploring to do before we go forward with this one. I am encouraging him to do his own research on this. We discussed at length the need to know materials are needed as well as if there are groups we could join or fees we have to pay to take part in these activities locally. I am hopeful that he will report back to me with all the details.
I want to encourage him to take the initiative, to lead even if its only himself, when it comes to his daily activities. We were learning greek/latin roots and words the other day that have to do with water. He is planning to build an aqueduct on Minecraft now for his aquanaut. He could draw a dolphin; I encourage him to sketch his designs before he creates them on the computer or with his legos. Once he builds them, with popsicle sticks, cardboard, cereal boxes – he can practice some photography by taking a picture for his album. A portfolio for us to see his progression.
I also plan to sit down with him and make an assignment list. This can help him to see what he is responsible for each day, or week (some subjects we do not do daily like music and art and foreign language). It also helps him see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is an end in sight – He needs to see that. Otherwise, especially when some days are harder than others, he gets rather emotional and will lament that “he will never be done”. With this he can see, no matter how hard or terrible it seems, it will end. And he can see where that end is.
Certainly I will still oversee his daily work and be there to help guide and mentor him along the way. But ultimately, my goal is to not have a “job” anymore; especially with my oldest son I know that we will need to regularly revisit those goals that we make, together and independently, to ensure that he is working towards them. As the years progress, they will become more responsible for the various aspects of their day. They will take ownership of their work. They will become more sure of their interests; their studies will be more directed. And I do believe, as we journey along in this way, there will be a spark lit within them, igniting a love of learning for life.
This is part of the beauty of homeschooling. ❤
Do share how you encourage independent learning in your homeschool 🙂