How To Get An Independent Homeschooler
I have a 4th grader now that I can see is capable and desiring a little more independence so that is something we will be working on this school year, becoming a more independent homeschooler.
A fourth grader! I cant believe it, I mean I can because its been a long road but also, I cant. This would be her last year in elemantry in my area if she were in public school. I know in real life that doesnt mean much, but it is giving me some kind of mom feels.
Apparently independence doesnt come with just age alone. No one told me. I have learned some things over the last few years homeschooling to enable my daughter to foster more independence and I want to share them with you.
My two new favorite words lately are “explicit” and scaffolding” so Ill start with those.
Explicitly Teach / Model
Sometimes we forget our children have never done these things. They need exact instructions. I like to present things in multiple ways in order to teach something new.
- So write down step by step how to do a particular task, or what they are supposed to get done that day. Something they can see and refer to.
- Model how to do the task and overcome road blocks over and over to be stored in the child’s visual memory
- Talk them through a task step by step. You are there the first couple times if needed and they also have that audio aspect they can store in their memory.
- You can even have them write out the steps they remember to see if they got it or if they missed anything
I think you get the point. Only you know how many of these that your child need to become more independent in their homeschool.
With the explicit part said, its important to work on one thing, one step at a time. This is not a happen all at once kind of thing.
Whether your child is doing book work or online school we have to focus on one step at a time. Build a good foundation. A good task for this is independent reading time. Practice this. Start with 10 minutes if they are younger. Slowly make it longer and longer.
If they need help during this time and you cant be available be sure to spend some time working with them on how to find solutions to their questions before making them completely independent in their homeschool.
This could be having them write down questions that are not urgent so they can ask you when independent time is over. Circling or marking a problem they need help with so you both can come back to it later, together. Or our favorite is ask Alexa, (no cheating though).
Explicitly teach, have them do it on their own but with you at arms reach, and then finally ease into that true independence.
Once you have one subject or one time block independent this is a great foundation and you can move on to longer times.
In previous years we have not used much of a schedule. We have used more of a to do list during our homeschool time. Which has worked well with little kids. My oldest is almost 10 now though and she likes her days to be more predictable.
So we set her up with her own schedule that she will practice being in charge of. We chose block scheduling for her for a few reasons:
- Provides some time restraints to practicing getting things done in a certain amount of time
- Keeping these time constraints wide and not too specific makes it less overwhelming.
- She knows what is coming and when.
- Everything has a chance to be done. If something new comes up we can easily drop it into an already established block
Make Your Expectations Very Clear
I always try to remember that my children and children in general naturally dont want to displease their parents. But they are also human. So if I dont specifically tell my daughter “after your done with math do not go to your room and start playing” there is a good chance that will happen.
Be very clear with what you expect from them. Dont assume they know, or think its “common sense”.
My daughter likes me to give her a brief overview of what I have planned for the day so neither of us are surprised or lost within the day and we both know what to expect.
Lists / Visual schedule
I already mentioned this earlier but I wanted to give it its own spot because I think its so helpful.
Just like us adults know, there is something satisfying about checking things off a list.
So be sure to have a list of things that need to be done. I will be putting this list of things into one of her established time blocks and it will be up to her to get it done within that time frame
I like to even add meals, and breaks to our list so they know we can do those things too when we need to.
Its Ok to Ask Questions
When your child asks a question have you ever said “you should know that!” When I say things like that I think how was that helpful? Did it help their memory? Was there anything I could have said in the exact same amount of time that would have helped jog their memory and also not made them feel bad for asking a question? The answer is most likely yes.
Part of working independently is knowing how to find the answers to unknowns. Not breaking down when they don’t know what to do but instead use their problem solving skills to find the answer. Remember, you are one of their resources. Likely their main resources right now.
Even if you don’t give them the solution, you can guide them in these moments how to find their own answers. So it is my goal to make my children feel safe asking me anything, even if it feels like “they should know already”.
Thanks for coming by for a read. What type of scheduling works for your family? Do you have any tips for helping kids become more independent in their homeschooling?
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