Inspiration for Independent Learners

Within part one in this series, ‘Independent Learning Principles’, we covered the basic characteristics which help move the student to being effective. Behind these key concepts, however, is an underlying question of ‘how’? How can you motivate your kid to want to learn on their own? How do you foster a curious nature and a desire to know more? How can you prod a reluctant student to become inspired by learning?

Quite frankly, I don’t believe there is an exhaustive list! What works to encourage one kid may be viewed as boring to another.  Some ideas may be viewed as cost or time prohibitive. Simply because an idea is not listed here does not mean it may not be valuable. (If it works – it’s golden in our book!)

Use these suggestions to inspire independent learning in your kids… or as inspiration to think of even more ways! (Be sure to share in the comments!)

  • Spend time. Sounds counter-intuitive to the whole independence thing right? Seriously – laying a firm foundation for basic educational skills (reading, math, and writing) will enable them to work independently in the long term.
  • Calendar – Many homeschool parents use a homeschool planner or calendar book. Let your kids either buy or create their own!
  • Books, books and more books! Certainly, e-books and the age of the internet have made the physical versions nearly obsolete… but find a way to make learning books easily accessible. Pick up old encyclopedias from a yard sale. Tap the local library for ‘how it works’ books on topics of interest; explore historical biographies together along with science/nature and more!
  • Learn through play! Turn learning math facts into a hopscotch game. Turn this week’s spelling list into online learning games.
  • Showcase documentaries tied in with their interests and the lessons at hand.
  • Look for ways to connect with their particular learning style – whether it is hands-on in the kitchen or online creating code!
  • Search for art, history and science museums in the area (many have military or teacher’s discounts available!) and plan short, focused visits vs. exhausting all day marathons. Shorter time frames allow attention to be concentrated on a specific subject – absorbing as much possible and yet, whetting their appetite to return to explore more!
  • Free’s in the budget! Take advantage of freebies (or highly discounted) opportunities in your area – concerts in the park; outdoor art displays; local theatrical productions, etc.
  • Practice the art of flexibility – together! Whether in schooling or in dealing with yet another military ‘snafu‘… discover other methods or paths to accomplish the end goal.
  • Lead by example! When asked a question, don’t always supply the answer (even if you do know it!) Instead, find ways to look up the answer together! Don’t ever fear saying ‘I don’t know’ as long as you remember to include ‘but I know where to find out!’
  • Praise! While tangible rewards and incentives may work, they aren’t often practical – and in later life may seem virtually non-existent. DO look for opportunities to offer praise. Those ‘atta-boys’ should not only be reserved for the final result but also for hurdling the obstacles along the way!

There are endless possibilities for inspiration! What works for your independent learner?

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