5 Ways I Made a More Independent Homeschooler
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If you have a child that’s getting a little older, and more independent; it may be time to hone in on those skills and start to make independence work for your family and your homeschool.
I think it was around seven or eight that my oldest started to display signs that she was ready to take on more independent work in our homeschool. So we began to create an independent homeschooler and a self-starter too!
5 Ways I Made a More Independent Homeschooler
As homeschoolers, we are already subjecting our kiddos to the perfect training regarding how to become more independent and cultivating self-starters. All we need to do is focus some attention on the process, and in no time your child can be doing so much on their own.
Around the ages of 7-10 (every child is different), children usually start to display signs that they are ready for more responsibility. By now, they have already learned some invaluable skills that will undoubtedly come in handy to work on their own and self-start.
Homeschooling Sets the Stage for Independent Learning
Children spend a lot of time with adults and kids of all ages, so they have or are currently learning social, communication, and relational skills beyond the “normal” level in many cases. I love that my daughter has spent so much time around adults that she can be mature when necessary. It has allowed her to make friends of all ages, communicate with adults comfortably, and handle herself well even when mom isn’t around.
Homeschool = Life skills
Am I right? As a homeschooler, working in the kitchen is pretty typical since we are eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home so often. By the time my daughter was 10, she had opened her own cupcake business from home, and she did quite well! She got so many orders initially; that she was quickly overwhelmed with all the facets of running a business and decided she would delay her career in baking. But the kitchen is a huge part of our homeschools and the center of our homes. As are so many other daily life skills that we incorporate into a typical homeschool day.
As homeschoolers, you learn to be flexible when necessary. Examples of exercising our flexibility can be events like the random dentist appointment that crowds the afternoon or checking in on a neighbor when they might need help or rearranging our school day when a lesson didn’t go as planned. Getting ready for that epic lesson and realizing you don’t have all the supplies necessary, is one of the most aggravating disruptions but it happens to the best of us. All sorts of things can disrupt our days, so rolling with it and moving forward build and model perseverance.
I could continue with so many examples of how our children are learning valuable lessons, strengthening character traits, and acquiring valuable life skills through homeschooling. They already have the potential for self-starting and working independently.
Here are 5 tips that helped us foster independent learning in our homeschool:
- Foster their interests. You can foster your child’s interests through child-led learning and their individual interests. For example, my daughter loved baking cupcakes, sewing, and she has her momma’s entrepreneurial pull. So when she suggested starting her own cupcake business from home, sure! She learned a lot of valuable lessons just through the opening, running, and trials of her small business venture at 10. We agreed to sewing lessons, and she was sewing her clothing and accessories from age 11. When a child is interested in something, foster it! The rewards are unmeasurable.
- Self start. When I had my second child, I knew that our homeschool was going to shift. My oldest would be required to step up and start doing some subjects without me right there next to her. So I chose which subjects she was best at, and could easily be done alone or online, etc. It would be necessary for her to do some school early in the mornings for things in our daily routine to line up. So we taught her to set the alarm, she wakes herself and begins her independent lessons from 7am-9am. She started doing that at age 10, and we have stuck with that routine ever since. It works wonderfully, and the littles aren’t up yet to disturb her. Once I get the younger kids breakfast and do a few chores, then she and I reconvene for all the work I need to assist with.
- Let them be a part of the homeschool planning committee. If she prefers a type of curriculum over another, I allow her to share her reasoning why. Or maybe she wants to switch a particular time or day we do a subject. Different things that may impact our routine or lesson plans that involve her, I always listen to her opinion. I may not agree and give in to her requests, but she feels heard. She also knows that we have an open line of communication to find what works best for all of us. Believe it or not, she has suggested changing things that I wouldn’t have thought of, and it has worked better than what we had in place at times.
- Give them responsibility. I have struggled with questioning myself; am I giving my oldest too much or not enough responsibility at times. As parents we feel guilty if we think we have given them too much to do, then on the flip side, we feel bad if they seem like they haven’t had enough responsibility at times. My daughter has taken on a lot of responsibility in the household and homeschool. However, I have found that she rises to the occasion when needed. The extra responsibility has taught her well, so well that when someone is sick or something unexpected comes up; I have seen the young lady in her come out to serve where she is needed. Most times without asking and deserves a job well done. I know that she takes pride in showing me what she can do. Responsibility has been an excellent self-confidence builder in our home.
- Consistency.Children thrive on routine, not suppressive to the point of stifling creativity or flexibility in the homeschool. But, If we wake up every morning and go wherever the wind blows us, we might be creating an unrealistic expectation of life to come. You don’t go to work as an adult and do whatever you want. Rarely can you change the scheduled day to your liking as a productive adult with a typical job. And at college, our children won’t decide what they will do daily as it comes. No as adults they will need to adapt to structure and routine in most cases. By giving them structure, routine, and allowing them to know what to expect at home in your day to day; that is excellent training for the responsible young adults they will need to become. Consistency has worked so well in our homeschool. To succeed in most cases, you need a plan; then you must carry that plan out with action. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated in your homeschool, but usually, that is because we are missing a component of structure or consistency. We can’t get frustrated that our kids don’t do what we haven’t taught them to do or modeled for them.
Every child is different, and birth order can play a factor too. Give your children age-appropriate chores and responsibilities. Sometimes they amaze us and can handle more than we expected. A little work never hurt anyone. I always remind myself, people survived in the harshest of times without any of the luxuries we have. Let them be little yes, but helping can be fun, responsibility can build confidence, and life skills are invaluable skills.
What are some ways you have cultivated an independent learner?