Help Your Homeschooler Become an Independent Learner

While independent learners tend to blossom in the homeschool environment, it’s a fact that not all children (or adults for that matter) are independent learners. Some kids naturally become independent learners based on life circumstances and learning style. They just take the bull by the horns. It’s also true that dependency on instruction is tied closely to a child’s age and maturity. The older children are, the more independent they tend to be.

The good news is homeschoolers who depend on parents for instruction can begin developing independent learning traits no matter their age. Encouraged growth of these traits can foster self-reliance and responsibility, both now in the homeschool environment and later in college or the workforce.

Traits of independent learners include:

1. Curiosity – Independent learners want to find out more about the world. They seek out ways to explore. They learn from various angles and formats, not just traditional instruction. They are proactive and find ways to access additional lesson supplements on their own.

2. Self-motivation – Forget bribery. Intrinsic motivation far surpasses any prize or reward system. Independent learners are motivated by setting internal goals to achieve. They are driven by their own personal achievement.

3. Self-examination – Where have you been and where are you going? Independent learners know how to evaluate themselves. They can see their strengths and weaknesses. They strive for measurable progress and often chart their accomplishments and failures.

4. Accountability – Responsibility means knowing what you have to do and doing it without anyone telling you to. The sooner a child becomes responsible for consequences, the less dependent he will be on outside sources for discipline or motivation.

5. Critical thinking – Independent learners think critically of a situation. They examine all possibilities and often come up with multiple solutions. They don’t just memorize. Rather, they ask “why?” and formulate answers based on real-world observation and intelligent deduction.

6. Comprehension with little or no instruction – Independent learners have an uncanny ability to read, visualize, or kinesthetically instruct themselves. No matter the topic or subject studied, an independent learner finds ways to understand material through application (generally trial-and-error).

7. Persistence – Independent learners don’t give up. They strive to understand a concept as much as possible on their own before asking for help. They also apply self-discipline in not finding the easy answer to a problem. They teach themselves and generally only ask questions after failure to find a solution on their own.

Kids with high self-esteem and a strong academic record are more likely to become independent learners, while those who struggle with esteem issues or have chronic poor academic performance are less likely to convert to independent learning. It all starts inside the mind of your child with a positive attitude and true self-belief. That’s why it’s so important as a homeschool parent, to help your child become more independent by building a positive self-image and encouraging the traits listed above.

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