As your student reaches high school, it is the perfect time to teach them how to develop independent learning skills. In fact, you could even consider making it one of their learning goals. This not only helps them see independent study in a positive light, but also gives them control of their own learning.
In doing so, you begin to train your teen to be a leader, to lead in their education. This replaces always following what Mom, or their teacher, tells them to do.
How to Develop Independent Learning Skills in High School
I’ve said it many times before, one of the primary goals of educating your children at home should be fostering lifelong learners who become leaders and not followers. By providing them with independent learning strategies, you’ll lead them toward the right direction of reaching their personal goals.
Always consider your own student’s learning needs.
Before implementing anything, always be mindful of your student’s learning style and any developmental strengths and weaknesses. Without considering these facets, anything you attempt to introduce could backfire.
Introducing new independent skills from the perspective of how your student learns is a great way to ensure they are receptive. The fact of the matter is, while some students are born natural independent learners, others need assistance, and some are reluctant altogether.
Start with one independent learning strategy at a time.
Depending on where your student falls on the scale (born independent, needs help becoming independent, or reluctant), you’ll want to take your time and make the journey toward independence a gradual process.
Start by choosing a strategy, then build on it. For example, you could begin by allowing your student to choose a topic to study. Then, give them the opportunity to research the topic. This is a first step in taking ownership or leadership in their education.
At first, you may need to assist with finding reliable resources. After being shown, they should be able to carry on by themselves. To help them keep up with their studies, consider incorporating a journal (written or typed) to keep up with personal learning objectives (more on this strategy next). This journal is one way on how to develop independent learning with your teens.
Help your student create their own independent learning activities.
Continuing from the last example . . . providing your student with new ways of learning can foster important skills they will need far beyond their homeschool years. If they choose to pursue college, they’ll need to be able to learn independently and make their own decisions as to how they’ll complete an assignment. One learning activity I did with my children is what I call the Read-Write-Discuss method.
First, we would choose a classic book to read independently. Next, we would write “about” our reading. This is different than retelling a story or narration. Instead, they would simply write “about” what they read. Doing this would help encourage them to think (and write) about their reading at a higher level of thinking.
Finally, we would have a discussion about it, no more than 10-15 minutes in length. Overall, this Read-Write-Discuss method gives you the ability to add flexibility to your homeschool, while fostering different skills in your student.
Offer effective feedback.
Of course, this shouldn’t be done in a forceful way. It is another skill that is important for your student to learn, as they become leaders. If you can offer feedback in a way that helps them do something better, do it.
For example, if your student struggles with time management and seems to easily get distracted while doing an assignment, offer a variety of suggestions that would help remedy the situation. Without them realizing it, they’ll be working on soft skills while staying focused on doing their best work.
Place less emphasis on academic performance.
As much as you may like to, tests, quizzes, and even 10-page reports aren’t always in your student’s best interests. If you live in a state that requires these things of homeschoolers, by all means, calculate that into your studies.
However, the biggest part of the independent learning experience is to help students take ownership of their learning, thus raising a leader, instead of a follower. This process will teach them how to be critical thinkers, arrive at conclusions, based on their findings (and not being told the “right answer”). Again, this process develops leadership characteristics.
The important thing to keep in mind is the end goal of the learning process. Our children will become adults who will be completely independent and rely on much of what they were taught growing up. Part of the Raising Leaders, Not Followers method is to prepare students for their future – one that is rooted in Christ and the ability to be critical thinkers.
The first steps start from the moment we become intentional in teaching the key factors that will lead to such results. Start by using the suggestions mentioned above and make any necessary changes along the way.
I’d love to hear from you! Share your examples of independent learning that you do in your homeschool. Keep in mind that your students don’t have to be high school age in order for you to start. In fact, the earlier the better!
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