Cultivating Independence: Tips and Activities for Homeschool Students

Cultivating Independence Tips and Activities for Homeschool Students homeschooling audio solutions

As homeschooling moms, we know what it’s like to juggle the needs of multiple children. We know what it’s like to focus on keeping the homeschool day running smoothly while also running a household and maybe even a business. It’s easy to think that cultivating independence in our children is primarily for our own sanity. And, don’t get me wrong, having children growing in independence, initiative, and grit? It’s definitely a blessing to Mama!

But even more importantly, having children who know how to independently problem-solve, stick to a plan, and follow-through on their work is a blessing for the kids themselves! Rather than raising another generation of young adults just waiting to be told what to do, we have the opportunity to nurture leaders who are passionate, interested in learning, and able to persevere when things are hard.

Fostering independence in our homeschool students will build their confidence, develop critical thinking skills, and bring more efficiency to your homeschool day.

Cultivating Independence Tips and Activities for Homeschool Students

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Tips for Encouraging Independence

1. Set Clear Expectations

Establishing clear guidelines and routines empowers students to work independently.

Independence can only grow and flourish when both Mom and kids know what is expected. What does “done” look like? What does “excellence” look like? When is the deadline for work to be finished? What are the consequences for incomplete work?

The first step in encouraging independence in your kids is creating a simple, big picture, easy to follow homeschool plan. This can take the form of a grid with daily assignments, a week-at-a-glance page with assignments by week, or even a simple one-page-a-day handwritten list in a spiral notebook.

And remember, it’s a truism for a reason: don’t expect what you don’t inspect!

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2. Provide Tools and Resources 

Offer access to age-appropriate materials, including living books that inspire curiosity and self-directed learning.

Strewing is the practice of curating educational activities, games, supplies, and interesting objects and leaving them out around your house for your kids to discover and explore. It is a simple way to encourage curiosity and a desire to learn independently outside of regular homeschool assignments.

This can be as simple as gathering new picture books from the library and leaving them on the coffee table. It might look like making the arts and crafts supplies more easily accessible. Oy maybe you find a beautiful feather or exoskeleton on your walk and bring it home for everyone’s enjoyment.

Independent learners don’t just wait for an assignment. Independent learners are curious to explore and learn on their own.

3. Encourage Self-Assessment 

It’s so important to teach students to evaluate their own progress and seek help when needed. One of the things I’ve loved about my kids’ first outsourced writing teacher is that she teaches them to self-edit their rough draft before she does any edits herself.

You can even do this with something like math. For instance, with our Mr. D Math classes, my students check their own homework.

4. Embrace Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

This is a hard one sometimes, but it’s vital that we create a safe space for trial and error, promoting resilience and problem-solving skills.

Having a child fail or struggle is not necessarily a bad thing. I’d much rather deal with that while they’re at home for the first time than have their first big flop experience occur when they’re out on their own!

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And what about that time (or two) when you realize a child has been checking off the assignments, but not really completing them thoroughly? (Raise your hand if you’ve been there, too!) Isn’t this actually a good thing to confront, an opportunity to deal with heart and character issues?

Independent learners aren’t ones who never make mistakes. They’re ones who learn from their mistakes and grow.

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5. Gradually Increase Autonomy

I’m not suggesting you hand over the homeschool curriculum to your 7 year old and expect them to be completely independent. This is a process. In fact, the younger the child, the less expectations there should be for independent learning

Start with small tasks and gradually increase responsibilities as your children grow in maturity.

Perhaps that looks like starting the math lesson with your 2nd grader, then asking them to complete the rest of the worksheet on their own while you work with their sibling. Will they get distracted or play or wander away? Yep, it might happen the first few times. It’s a process of nurturing and training them to work on their own, even when Mom’s eyes aren’t on them. 

Perhaps it looks like telling your 4th grader that you would like them to read a particular book by the end of the week, but let them know they get to choose when (and how much) to read it each day. Some kids may wait until the due date and then scramble to catch up (or maybe even realize they can’t actually read the whole thing in one day). Again, this is a growth opportunity to help them learn how to break a larger task up into smaller pieces.

Hands-On Activities for Independent Learning

Here are a few ideas for hands-on activities that encourage independent learning:

  1. Nature Exploration: Encourage outdoor exploration, nature journaling, nature podcasts, and No-Sweat Nature Study.
  2. DIY Projects: Provide materials for creative projects like science experiments, history projects, or art activities. Sometimes it’s as simple as giving your children the opportunity for a cardboard, scissors, and duct tape free-for-all!
  3. Cooking and Meal Planning: Teach practical life skills while fostering independence in the kitchen. Be willing to embrace the mess for the sake of the process!
  4. Single-Player Games: Gameschooling can happen even if you have only one child playing a game!
  5. Independent Reading and Audiobooks: Fill your home with engaging books and audiobooks for solo reading and listening.

Audio Solutions for Independent Homeschoolers

Of course, most homeschooling families don’t have enough space for each child to be independently enjoying an educational podcast, online class, or video chat with friends simultaneously without the noise getting to be too much!

Quality headsets for students ensure our independent children can listen and learn to their hearts’ content without adding to the cacophony in our homeschools.

I love that my children can each listen to their audiobook of choice while I enjoy the silence (or my own personal audio experience).

My older children are enjoying more and more video chats online with their friends, and a headset helps them enjoy a private chat without another sibling eavesdropping.

Headsets are also incredibly useful if your homeschooler is in online classes.

And now that my daughter has her own AVID headset with mic, I’m wondering if I can encourage a little more independence as she records her poetry podcast for kids.  

Use code HOMESCHOOL for 20% off your own headset from AVID Products, Inc.

Click here to see what AVID headset is right for your homeschool.

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Cultivating Independence Tips and Activities for Homeschool Students homeschooling audio solutions
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