Helping your child to become an independent learner

One of the most important learning skills you can help your child to develop is to become an independent learner. Children who are more independent learners tend to have more self-confidence and have a greater sense that they are in control of their learning. Encouraging independent learning can happen from a young age, but it can be hard for parents who are not trained teachers to know when they are giving too much help and when they are not giving enough. If you regularly help your child with their homework, there are a few simple steps you can take to help your child become more independent learners.

  1. Help your child to answer the first question or two in an activity then allow them to do the next ones by themselves. Encourage them to get the answer themselves, but if they are struggling it may help them to point out how you would find the answer.

  2. Negotiate a time limit on how long they think it will take them to finish the rest of the activity to help them stay focused on their work. Perhaps even set a timer on your phone and encourage them to ‘race’ the clock. The time limit should be reasonable so that children can complete the activity with neat writing.

  3. If your child is used to you being with them when they complete their homework, gradually move away from them over a period of time. Helping them to start their homework and then moving to sit nearby but not with them while they finished can give them the comfort of you being there but encourage them to complete the work by themselves. Over time you can put more distance between you until they are able to work alone while you are able to get on with other things you might need to do.

  4. Set aside time after your child has finished their homework to spend some time alone and focused on them. You could play a game together or read a story. It’s a good reward for having finished their work by themselves.

  5. Most importantly, be firm. If your child won’t try to work independently or is fussing over something that they can do quite easily when you are there, let them know that you have confidence in their ability to do it by themselves but you won’t help them unless they really need it. It can be hard to say ‘no’, but it is worth it to see them become more confident and self-assured as learners and people.