How to encourage your child to learn independently

As a parent, supporting your child as they navigate school and their studies is, of course, a positive and beneficial thing to do.

However, it’s important to strike a balance between always being there to help and encouraging independence. The ability to learn and solve problems on their own is a fundamental skill that children need to develop. An over-reliance on you can hinder their development of the following, both in school and outside it:

academic ability

self-confidence

concentration

self-motivation

It can be difficult to know where to draw the line in terms of helping your child with schoolwork, especially if they’re struggling. Here are some easy steps to set them up well for independent learning.

 

1. Do the first part of a task together as an example, then take a step back 

Working through a task together can be a great way for your child to understand the how and why of it but be careful not to do the whole assignment for them. Once you’ve walked through the first step with them, try to input further only if they get really stuck.

2. If possible, leave the room they’re working in

If you’re right next to them, it’s easy for them to give up and ask you for help when they don’t actually need it. If you aren’t by their side they will be more encouraged to try their hardest to work it out for themselves.

3. Reward them when they achieve something on their own

They should know that completing homework by themselves is always the goal. Praising and rewarding them when they show they can be an independent learner is a great way to boost confidence and motivation.

4. Be fair but firm

Establish a ground rule that you’ll help them only once they’ve tried their hardest to do it alone. If they’re asking you for the answers simply because they’re frustrated or finding it hard to concentrate, be firm and say no. It can be hard to do but it will pay off in the long run!

5. Take an active interest in their learning

Enthusiasm is infectious: ask questions about what they’re learning and encourage them to play the role of expert on that particular topic. This will inspire them to take charge of their learning, and reinforce the idea that learning isn’t merely mandatory but can also be fun and interesting.

6. Be a cheerleader from the sidelines

Encouraging independent learning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support your child emotionally. If your child knows that you believe in them and in their ability when it comes to homework, they’ll push themselves to do it well in order to make you proud.

7. Let your child give their input when it comes to their learning

Children often don’t react well to simply being told what to do; you can’t expect independence without trusting them to make their own decisions. If they have a preference about how, where or when they do their homework, try to incorporate it into their routine so that they feel like the concept of independent learning works both ways.

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