The other day I was talking to a fellow homeschool mom who asked me “How did you get your son to work independently?” It’s honestly a bit hard to answer that as it naturally happened. Today I thought I’d think about that a bit more. How did I go about developing independence in my son’s learning?
The Early Years
When my son was little, we did everything together. Walks, housecleaning, playing, and just living life. We had so much fun together. I wasn’t a helicopter parent, but it was just the two of us so doing things together made sense right? This lasted until he was about 7.
At 7 years old things started to change a bit, he was developing his own interests, learning to play on his own (mom wasn’t climbing our snow mountain), and discovering differences existed between us. It was a surprise to him to learn that mom wasn’t crazy about insects though I’d happily teach about them. Mom wasn’t a huge fan of spiders either much to my son’s horror . “LAD! Get this spider before I stomp on him!” was a rather familiar call in this spider friendly home we live in.
I love bunnies, guinea pigs, and dogs…. Give me something with fur to love and I am great. Going to see my neigbours’ horses brought me pleasure. My son.. well.. he likes cats, birds and small creeping around the ground things. Dogs, horses, cattle and what not are just not his thing. How could mom be so different?
Building upon those differences we start exploring countries around the world. This was a two-fold endeavor.. my striving to get my picky eater to be less picky, and to explore cultures and people not our own, showing differences in people that maybe he hadn’t considered. We had a hoot learning. He’d pick something he wanted to learn, I’d pick something. They’d often diverge but together we explore. We touched on music.. and I discovered he loves classical music, and instrumental was his love. He learned mom can’t help bopping to a rhythm though he can’t imagine why!
We discovered the joy of reading encyclopedias. Several history ones made up our bedtime reading. Looking for a person’s perspective on history and seeing how it came out in the books we read. My son quickly showed his affinity for weaponry, pointing out how the world people lived in influenced weapon design. My thoughts were on how art and language came to be, looking for the details in the workmanship. We had great conversations about what surprised us and what we learned. I bought the lad a book on weapons which he devoured and still browses today.
I need you to understand something. In fact I LOVE math and am good at it. Had no problems teaching the lad the basics of what he needed to learn until we came to division. There I learned an important thing. The lad thinks about math completely differently than I do. Forward progress ground to a halt. We couldn’t do math together. He was 10 and math killed it. Totally. History, language, science, all good. Math.. No. The lad suddenly had to start learning math on his own. With a program. No mom helping because how we see math just causes head butting. Pivotal moment.
Independence in math, led to independence in much more.
Math led to other decisions in Middle School
Seeing himself successfully find what worked and what didn’t in math led to other decisions. He’d do his math and then I’d learned that science, English and history were done as well.
In Middle School he discovered a LOVE of writing papers (go figure!) and a penchant for expanding what he was learning about.
“Research how dragonflies fly” this short research project lead to …. “MOM! Did you know that dragonflies are the most successful hunters? Mom! Did you know… ” What was supposed to be a one day project became two weeks of utter fascination.
He would often ask “mom, does it matter if I change the question? Does it matter that I want to learn more?” My stock answer is always “Are you learning? If you are learning and getting your other work done, it’s all good”. He’s learned to learn! WOOHOO!!!!! 🙂
Questions in schooling changed. They used to be “What do I do next? What are we learning about today? Oh, can you help me make this? Want to see what I built? and such like.
Now I get asked questions like: How do I divide this up so I get finished on time? What do I need to do first? Can you help me figure out what they are asking for? The questions are different. More sorting through, more planning, less hands on.
I have needed to teach the lad skills I was taught. He’s needed to learn to read questions carefully to make sure he’s doing what is needful.
Looking forward to High School
This lad of mine faces grade nine this coming school year, so last year he made the choice to attend one class in grade 8. We chose music since it was his first classroom learning experience and would be a no-brainer for him once he got into it. No pressure, just learning how a teacher operates in a class environment. He learned much and complained about time wasted.
This coming year’s course materials required more collaboration. I have these two English programs.. let’s sort out which is better. Telling him “I thought you might like to read this WW2 books yourself, do you think we can read these over here together”? I’ve needed to ask him what he wants to learn this year and how he wants to do it (term system or semester system).
We learned from doing WW1 last year that he wants more structure to our learning so we’ve invested in some unit studies that he can work from. He is becoming more able at learning what HE needs to learn best. Even if it’s not the same way mom learns. This burgeoning independence and growth has fit him naturally.
I hope that some of this helps you encourage independence in your children. Developing Independence helps them discover talents, interests and abilities within enabling them to learn in a way that best suits.
Hey! Follow The crew through this Annual Not Going Back to School homeschool blog hop! Links of participants belowCREW @ Homeschool Review Crew – 2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses – ABC of Homeschooling
Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag – Adding Fun to Your Homeschool Day
Erin @ For Him and My Family – Large Family Homeschooling
Lori @ At Home Where Life Happens – Learning Life Skills
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling – Homeschooling the High School Years
Monique D. @ Early Learning Mom – Homeschooling With Autism
Yvie @ Homeschool On the Range – 5 Days of Upper Grades Homeschooling
Abby @ Making Room 4 One More – Time Management for Homeschool Moms
Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool – 5 Days of Homeschool Questions
Amy @ the WRITE Balance – Year-Round Schooling
Annette @ A Net in Time – Homeschooling.
Betty @ Lets Get Real – Homeschooling High School
Cassandra @ My Blessed Mess – Eclectic Homeschooling