One of the most important learning skills you can help your child to develop – along with the school – is to become an independent learner. Children who are more independent learners tend to have more self-confidence and have a greater sense that they are in control of their learning. Encouraging independent learning can happen from a young age.
There are a few simple steps you can take to help your child become more independent learners:
- Encourage them to get the work done by themselves but if they are struggling, it may help them to point out how you would do it. However please do not give the answer to them, rather try asking questions, like …
- Why do you think this is important?
- Where can you find some answers?
- How will you know if your learning/working was successful?
These open questions will allow your child to take the initiative to move forward with an idea.
- Negotiate a time limit on how long they think it will take them to finish the activity, it will help them stay focused on their work. Perhaps even set a timer on your phone and encourage them to ‘race’ the clock. The time limit should be reasonable so that children can complete the activity with neat writing or drawing.
- Help your child to start their homework or any activity they would like to complete and then move to sit nearby but not with them while they finished. It can give them the comfort of you being there but encourage them to complete the work by themselves. Over time you can put more distance between you until they are able to work alone.
- Set aside time after your child has finished their task or the activity to spend some time alone and focused on them. You could play a game together or read a story. It’s a good reward for having finished their work by themselves.
- Most importantly, be firm. If your child won’t try to work independently or is fussing over something that they can do quite easily when you are there, let them know that you have confidence in their ability to do it by themselves, however you won’t help them unless they really need it. It can be hard to say ‘no’, but it is worth it to see them become more confident and self-assured as learners and people.