One of the best things you can help your child work toward as a student is becoming an independent learner. In school, independence is a sign of maturity and confidence. Students who are independent seek to learn for the sake of learning and understand that learning requires discipline and diligence.
The more you can help your child make that transition toward independence as a student, the more equipped he or she will be for college-level academics and a career.
WHAT IS AN INDEPENDENT LEARNER?
Put simply, independent learning is when students take ownership of their education and control of the tasks required to learn. They stay on top of what they need to do and engage in homework and studying without having to be nagged by you or their teachers.
It’s obvious why this is important. Independent students are not afraid to fail and recognize that all learning requires effort. They take responsibility for school themselves and acknowledge that success in school will help them reach their goals, even if they haven’t defined them yet. They are persistent, even when a subject or assignment is hard for them, and they tend to comprehend and retain things better than their less-independent peers.
HOW CAN YOU RAISE AN INDEPENDENT LEARNER?
Teaching children to be independent learners isn’t like teaching them how to ride a bike or tie their shoes, but there are still many things you can do to encourage independence. Here are several tips:
• Focus on effort and learning more than grades and GPA. In school, encourage your student to keep in mind that grades matter and praise from teachers is always welcome, but learning is the goal. If children receive a low grade on a test or assignment, talk about what they think went wrong. Did they follow directions? Study thoroughly? Keep up on class work? And when they receive a high grade, point out how they got there.
• Set goals and talk about the future. Independent learners have the motivation to succeed in school because they know it will lead to a brighter future. From a young age, talk with your children about what they like to learn and what school subjects they enjoy most. Talk about college and what they might want to do for a career one day. Help your children make the connection between their future and their actions today.
• Talk about school as a process of learning. Children must understand that learning is a journey that will have ups and downs. Remind them to pay attention to how they learn best and the pitfalls that can make school harder for them. Some students realize early on that they are a strong reader and less strong at math. This will mean they’ll need to put extra effort into math homework and ask for teachers’ help. Other students might struggle with organization. Developing good routines will be essential. The more children know themselves as students, the easier they can self-assess and get help when they need it.
• Resist the urge to step in too often. School is and always will be your children’s responsibility, so treat it that way. It’s okay for you to provide guidance and support, but don’t get too involved in the homework process or take over when they get stuck. Encourage them to be resourceful by looking through their notes or textbook when they are confused by a problem or searching the internet for videos to help them. And if you don’t know how to help when your children ask for guidance on that math or science homework, instead have them explain where they’re confused and come up with a few specific questions to ask their teacher the next day. It’s so important that your child becomes an independent learner. As your child progresses through school and life, the responsibilities only become greater—and teachers expect that your child will be a self-starter who takes initiative to manage his or her own learning. If your child struggles to complete homework independently or spends a lot of time on homework but yields little results, professional assistance is available and can be helpful.
The Huntington Learning Center Gulfport is located at 8950 Lorraine Road, Unit E, Gulfport. Contact the center at (228) 206- 2353.