Independent Learning: How you can help your child become an independent learner
Kids nowadays have grown up with the mindset that they must heavily depend on their teachers and parents when it comes to learning. They are not given the push and means to learn independently.
What is independent learning?
Independent learning is when someone takes up responsibility for their own learning activities and makes informed choices in relation to their learning. However, independent learning is not just about learning on your own. In fact, consulting a friend, or speaking to a peer about your work is also considered as a form of independent learning – perhaps the most effective kind. Discussing questions with a peer and/or explaining concepts to them can show just how much a person has understood the work.
Why is it important?
According to observations done by focus groups, parents that set high expectations then step back from being involved in their child’s learning, have the most successful children. This is because these children already have a predetermined goal in mind and will on their own, strive to achieve that goal set by their parents. This way, the child has an incentive to learn and take initiative in their own learning process.
Fostering an environment of independent learning for kids at a young age is an essential part of growth. Independent learners are more self-aware and are more confident in what they do. They do not have to rely on their teachers or parents to learn new things or require their parents to be with them every step of the way. Kids who are independent question things themselves and don’t wait for guidance to go forward in their learning. Their creativity and self-motivation are developed in a way that positively impacts their personality and thinking. This enables them to feel in control of their learning and take learning as a crucial process in their growth rather than a pressure put on them.
When kids are completing their A-levels, they depend mostly on tuition teachers and learn very little by themselves, since they are said to be ‘spoon fed’ information. However, when they start university or a professional course they are required to work fully on their own and learn concepts by themselves from scratch. This can often cause demotivation in students which is why many students drop out of university by the sudden shock of independent learning.
As well as self-awareness and confidence, independent learning can be a key competency to have when going into the job market. New jobs require people to quickly adapt to the company culture and learn the work in an efficient manner without having much supervision. These types of people are preferred by employers since they don’t have to completely invest in the employee in terms of time, training and supervision.
"The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence." Denis Waitley
Tips on becoming an independent learner
Nowadays, parents are said to be too involved in their child’s learning.
You may wonder “But how much should I really be involved in my child’s learning from a young age?”
Here are some tips on how you can help your kids become independent learners.
When your child asks you for help with their homework you should only show them how they can achieve the solution without giving too much detail, to allow them to think and work on their own towards achieving the answer. When you want to give your child questions to work on, opt for more open-ended questions to get them thinking rather than closed-ended questions which only have a right or wrong answer. For example, you can ask them “what is this book about?” or “how does it work?”. These questions will encourage their critical thinking skills from a young age.
"Children must be taught how to think, not what to think." Margaret Mead
2. Goals and time limits
Set a reasonable goal for your child concerning their workload, taking into consideration your child’s learning capacity. Also, set appropriate time limits for your child to complete their work in. These will help increase your child’s productivity as they know they will have something they need to work towards. In Katapult’s workshops, we set challenges that students need to complete within a time limit to keep them concentrated. We do this by using a video timer with a bomb explosion. Here is an example of a video you can use: 20 Minute Timer (Bomb Spaghetti)
Support your child’s independent learning by rewarding them when they take a step closer to becoming an independent learner. For example, if your child has completed a maths quiz on their own, even if they got wrong answers, reward them with an ice cream. This will be an incentive for them to become more disciplined as they will create a positive relation between success in their studies and gaining rewards.
Provide your child with the opportunity to self-assess and be self-aware of how and what they are learning. If they are high school students, encourage them to keep a planner to organize their revision and self-learning. At a young age they should be engaged in taking chunks out of their day to process what they have learnt at school in an interactive way. This will ensure that they do not perceive learning as a hassle, rather a way of reaching their full potential.
5. Create opportunities for them to grow
Give your children confidence in their independent learning by letting them do tasks independently. As they get older, delegate more responsibilities to them so they can slowly adjust into independency. Additionally, You can engage them in fun educational courses and activities that help them get creative and think on their own.
At Katapult, we strive to ensure our courses are fun, interactive and will help the kids become leaders of tomorrow. Our courses are catered to the needs of your child to help them construct a solid and fruitful foundation for their future career.
We provide them with valuable learning experiences that will enable them to develop their problem solving and thinking skills, as well as give them the independence and confidence that they are in control of their learning. Our courses are project based and provide experiential learning with the guidance from video tutorials and quizzes. We teach and instruct kids on their projects and allow them to think and complete their projects on their own.