Encouraging Independent Learning

There comes a time when we can encourage our children with independent learning. The difficulty lies in how to do it. How can we help our kids to independent learning when we have been through homeschooling with them every step of the way?


If you have more than one child at home, you probably are quickly discovering that the days of sitting next to your children step-by-step is getting less and less feasible. It seems as though there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Once you have set out a foundation for your children and they have gotten in full swing of homeschooling; eventually, you want them to gain some type of autonomy.  However, encouraging independent learning won’t come automatically.

Encouraging your children to work on their own takes time and persistence. Your children would need a strong foundation of the basic subject groups, or else independent learning just won’t work. Another thing is that the time for you to encourage independent learning may be different for each child.

We should know that nothing is cookie cutter, what works for one family, even one child may not work for the other. The perfect timing in each child for independent learning is no different in this sense. Some kids will start in late elementary age and others will begin in middle school.

Whatever age or grade level you feel they are ready, there are a few things you can do to encourage independent learning in the meantime:

Lay a strong foundation of the basics.

As I mentioned above, setting a strong foundation is key. Elementary school lays the foundation for kids to know what to expect from homeschooling and knowing what is expected of them. It is vital for elementary students to have a good understanding of the core subjects like reading skills, counting and number basics, and developing language skills through rote memory. After this, you can gradually train your children into more learning independence.

Expose independent learning gradually.

There is no rush to forcing kids to learn independently early on. The more patience you have with it, the more satisfied you will be when they are finally “doing school” more autonomously. You can begin with subjects that your children enjoy and ones they feel more confident in. Even start with one subject at a time. This is best when trying to get a feel of how your student does working more on their own.

Note: Do not begin with a subject that your child is having difficulty in. That can make your child dislike the subject even more, especially if you are not there for them through it.

Use a timer to know if your child needs more time or less time with independent work.

This one may be a little tricky to start off. You may even have to do some work alongside your student to see how long specific work takes. Then task your student to do the school work slightly faster the next time. Timers keep my son focused and he works well with them.  I always give him a little extra time; however, set times keep him doing the task at hand with a goal in mind.

Provide a platform in their homeschool system that allows them accountability.

It is easy for a mom to keep the kids in line and always be there to steer the students in the right direction. Using an organized system that allows your children to track their own progress and to guide them can be extremely helpful in building their independence.

Homeschool Planet’s homeschool online planner allows for the perfect system for kids to track their own performance, gives them daily goals and supports them in doing work independently. If I can backtrack a moment, I would like to explain where the level of autonomy begins with Homeschool Planet.

With Homeschool Planet’s homeschool planner online, each student holds their very own login. Parents can customize each student’s login features for them to view and edit. Your students can color code their class, activity, category, and subjects with you just how they would prefer it. You or your student can upload their picture to their login page and choose from 18 different awesome background themes.

You can walk your child through the ins and outs of Homeschool Planet, so they know to access email, check texts, explore their calendars, and more.

The Homeschool Planet calendar system sends assignment reminders and daily or weekly email digests with the day or week’s assignments. You can show your kids how to search Google and Bing to research and find out information on their own.

For kids, knowing they have a system of their very own to guide them through their school day helps their independence tremendously. Using this tool in itself is a great way to encourage independent learning in your homeschool setting.

Total independence may never happen while you are homeschooling. Some high school students only have to show you their outputs. Other high school students will need some more hand-holding and guidance. However, it is not an end-all. You still can encourage independent learning in at least a few subject areas.

We know homeschooling our kids is a hands-on commitment for about 15 years of out of our life. We embrace it and know that our children will be better for it. Encouraging kids to learn independently, as part of our homeschooling journey, means more than just having a little time for ourselves in the day.

It means that we are preparing our children for adulthood and equipping them with the ability to complete tasks and follow-through as an adult.

What types of steps have you taken to encourage your kids in independent learning? Did you find it was different with each of your kids? We would love to hear about your story or if you have any insight that can help other homeschool families in their journey.

Leave a message for us in the comments section below.

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At last — an easy, flexible, full-featured online planner that doesn’t require hours to learn. Just launch, click on the calendar, and start adding classes, assignments, and appointments!

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