How to Raise An Independent Learner

Face it! Your child has always wanted to be independent! She keeps wanting to do things on her own. So, why not tap into this nature of hers and encourage her to be an independent learner?

By Hannah S Mathew

How to Raise An Independent Learner

Unless your child learns to fly solo, holding herself responsible for her own learning, she may never discover her true capabilities. This article will show you that the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of the process are as trouble-free as when you first took off the training wheels and watched her as she rode her bicycle on her own!

Independent learners become lifelong learners. Raising your child to be a self-learner will surely bring her success in life. The ability to keep learning is a crucial skill that will help your child to flourish in the areas of education, economy and social existence. Understandably, becoming an independent learner has many rewards to offer your child:

• He will be able to think individually

• She will develop better self-concept

• He will be more adept at making unconventional discoveries

• She will make a great employee

• He will find success in further learning more easily

The independent learner is clearly the best kind of learner. Nevertheless, self-learning is not only an asset for your child’s future but also for her everyday life.

Although both he and you may encounter initial hesitations of letting go and being on one’s own, his ambition and willingness to learn independently will soon come to the forefront. The younger he is, the easier it will be for him to overcome the initial hesitations. For best results, begin while he is in primary school or in the preteen phase. 

These ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ will guide you as you help him become an independent learner:

1. Don’t be too strict but give him plenty of options when it comes to time for study. Let him prioritise the order of the subjects and the time he chooses to allot to each subject.

2. Do the scheduling in collaboration with her. Remember to include everything from playtime to chores to study to television time to mealtimes.

3. Don’t begin by giving him big projects. Begin small. Divide the work into manageable chunks for him to learn the ropes.

4. Do encourage her to ask questions as curiosity is a major part of learning. Lead her to how she can find the answers on her own. Resist the temptation to give away the answers to her, thereby, curbing self-learning.

5. Don’t underestimate his abilities or curtail his planning in any way.

6. Do let her learn from her mistakes. Only suggest direction. Let her make her decisions. Always appreciate her curiosity and work regardless of its significance.

7. Don’t focus on the entertainment factor in work. Too much time and energy are invested in making studies fun. Work is work! The sooner he accepts it, the better.

8. Do escalate the amount of her accountability gradually. This will ensure that she realises her true potential and keep her from becoming laid-back.

9. Don’t become his study-buddy. Step back. Let him learn not to lean on you, but let him do his own work. Hard work is always rewarding.

10. Do permit creativity and applaud all her efforts to be innovative. Tell her to draw diagrams, make charts, create model craft and concoct songs to help her remember what she learns.

11. Don’t compartmentalise his self-study. Integrate his study-time into the routine of a regular week day. This will help him realise that it is a part of his routine life and instil discipline in him.

12. Do customise the study area based on her input. Place her table and lighting in a way that she likes. Place pin-up boards, post-its, diagrams, time-tables and motivational posters according to her preference.

Now that you are equipped with the know-how of raising an independent learner, know that no two children are alike. This means that no two children have identical learning skills or methods. Understanding the individual capabilities of your child is essential to the process. It is mandatory that you meticulously inspect his work at the end of each day to establish where he needs more guidance. You will also be able to perceive if he is ready to be an independent decision-maker in every area of self-learning. Your help will be invaluable to him as he grows to learn independent of external help. So, lead the way for him to learn and live solo!

Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.