Independent learners. Hmm…That sounds like a lovely “pie in the sky” idea, especially when you’re sitting with your first-grader and reading every. single. word. for them. Will this child ever be able to do work without me…even if I’m not sitting here keeping him on task? And if you have older kids–you wonder: When will they take ownership? When will it be less mom-driven and more student-driven learning? And while it’s such a blessing to accommodate and work at the pace of our children–there’s always the question of how (and WHEN) will they eventually take the reins. How will they become independent learners? Self-motivated, life-long learners–this is our goal! And if you’re a mama of a teenager–you know…it happens! Somewhere in those early teen years–we go from hand-holding to hands-off. And as a mom of 3 amazingly independent teens–let me share some secrets for successfully developing independent learners.
(FYI…Teaching Textbooks sponsored this post…But please know, I was already using and loving Teaching Textbooks! As always–this post reflects my personal experiences and is 100% my opinion!)
Give Them the Skills!
1) Note Taking
Brick by brick, we’re laying the foundation for all future learning in those elementary years. We’re giving them the skills to become self-directed learners. We’re teaching them how to learn!
Once our kiddos have the basics down–reading, writing, and arithmetic…it’s time to apply those skills! And one of the best things you can do for your child is teach them how to take notes!
I’ve found several curriculum and subjects lend themselves particularly well to this important skill. Science and History texts are perfect places to start note taking. Often these texts are already divided into topics and subtopics–while also highlighting important vocabulary or key events.
But What About Notes From an Oral Lecture?
Often homeschoolers have lots of opportunities to take notes from texts (no one ever accused us homeschoolers of not having enough books)! But giving our kiddos the opportunity to takes notes from a lecture or oral lesson…Not so much! Most of us homeschool moms aren’t up lecturing to our kids in the middle of the kitchen (at least not about school subjects…maybe about rinsing the dirty dishes–and trust me no one is taking notes)!
So how can we help our kids learn this vital skill? They will most certainly need to take notes from a lecture in college or in the workplace!
Besides YouTube videos and TED Talks–I’ve actually found math lessons to be an amazing way to make note taking from a lecture part of our regular, daily routine! For the last two years my 15 year-old daughter has been using Teaching Textbooks–and every day she listens to a short lecture (around 15 minutes) and takes notes as part of the curriculum!
I love that she is both listening and watching the lesson–and working through problems throughout the lecture. She is actively participating in the lesson.
We use the new online version–Teaching Textbooks 3.o (you can read my full review HERE). It is super convenient–and we have no math textbook! So my daughter really does utilize her notes to help complete the assignments! Of course, she can always rewatch a segment of the lecture or see any problem worked out (Teaching Textbooks actually provides a full explanation to every. single. problem!)–but I see her depending more and more on her own notes. Thinking about what she learned and applying it…Yay!!
In our quest to develop independent learners–we want them to develop the skill of self-evaluation and self-monitoring.
One thing I’ve noticed about my 15 year-old–she likes correcting her work and fixing her math mistakes without me! (Does any teenager really like Mom pointing our their mistakes?) And really, who can blame her–I’d much rather see and fix my own mistakes than have someone else pointing them out to me!
So in a way Teaching Textbooks (TT) offers a very non-threatening space to make mistakes! She watches the TT instructor explain and work out a problem, and then discovers where her mistakes were made–it’s a very personal and meaningful way to make corrections!
I see so much more confidence built into this approach. In the past–it would be my responsibly to point out where her errors were made. Now that she is monitoring her own errors–she can quickly identify where in the math problem she made the mistake! I will hear her say–“Oh I can’t believe I forgot that!” or “I knew that!,” or “Mom, I’m confused…” She is able to evaluate the mistake: was it carelessness, was it a small detail, or was it confusion about the concept? This is the type of self-evaluation that builds independent learners.
I don’t know many adults who don’t occasionally struggle with time-management! What an important life skill we can give our children! Starting in middle school, my kids begin utilizing personal planners. They write out daily “to-do,” lists and tackle the day!
However–if they are waiting on mom for a lesson, it’s hard for them to take real ownership of their schedules! I remember juggling my newborn twins, math lessons for 3 kids, and laundry…(actually–no I take that back…I hardly remember a dang thing from those sleep-deprived days!) I hated that my kids were always waiting on me to get started with their lessons!
My 15 year-old, in particular–is an early bird! She loves to get up and get going on her list! Teaching Textbooks has been such a blessing–no more waiting around for mom! Instead, my daughter can do math whenever and wherever she wants!
4) Self-Pacing and Personal Goals
Ultimately, we want our kids to be in charge of their own learning! At the core of our homeschooling goals we are raising kids who are self-directed and self-motivated!
Thanks to Teaching Textbooks, my daughter is not waiting around for me to present her math lesson–or constrained by a traditional classroom schedule! She works at her own pace! She is not only learning to manage her time–but she manages her own learning pace and goals!
If she easily understands a topic, she might decide to complete two lessons (or more)! Often Audrey sets small goals for herself, like completing a certain amount of lessons by the end of the month or achieving high scores on lessons and tests. These are personal to her–and are hallmarks of an independent learner! The pace is hers, the goals are hers–she is taking ownership!
5) Knowing When to Seek Help
So while my daughter is gaining so many valuable independent learning skills–none of us work or live in a vacuum. It’s also important to know when to ask for help–and where to go get it!
As a homeschool mom, probably my favorite thing about Teaching Textbooks is that I can jump in and help when my daughter needs extra assistance! Every question is marked with the original lesson where the topic was introduced (there’s a ton of review built into TT).
If Audrey’s forgotten how to do a particular type of problem (like say, a word problem)–she can click right on the original lesson and get a quick refresher! And if she finds that she needs my help, I can easily catch on by watching a short segment of a lecture with her or watch a problem being worked out correctly by the instructor. (Remember–after your child answers, every single problem has the option of being fully modeled–whether your child got it right or wrong! I love this! Often–I will ask Audrey to let me see a problem worked out so that I can more fully understand the topic.)
Teaching Textbooks gives students the ability to seek help on their own–easily locating prior lessons, modeling every problem, and offering helpful hints. But it also gives parents the ability to step in and assist! They make it easy to catch up and catch on to what your student is learning!
Create a Culture of Independent Learning
As you give your child skills for independent learning, your role as a homeschool mom will change. As they grow–you grow! You become their facilitator, cheerleader, and partner in learning…And they take ownership!
Students that know how to learn–who are self-motivated and in charge of their own learning…This is what we want for our children! I’m so thankful I’ve been able to utilize curriculum like Teaching Textbooks to help me reach these goals!
Okay, Sweet Friend–you really need to check it out for yourself! Often it’s hard to get a feel for a curriculum and really know whether or not it will be a good fit…But Teaching Textbooks offers a free trial (with no credit card, no time-limit, and no limits to the number of products you can try). You can try the first 15 complete lessons of any level (they offer Math 3 through Pre-Calculus)–and it will save your child’s progress! Your kiddos will be on the road to independent learning (and you will have one less thing to do–no more teaching math!)
Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions! I could talk math, homeschool, and independent learning all day!
P.S. Don’t miss my other Teaching Textbooks posts: