Developing Independent LearnersMarlene Griffith
“Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for life”
I used to think this was the cheesiest quote I ever heard, but when I had children, it began to make sense.
I’m a very hands-on mom. My kids actually like hanging out with me and love picking my brain. They trust me and trust that I’m going to guide them in the right direction. They trust that what I tell them is truth. That’s a huge responsibility, but it’s a great privilege to have that relationship with them.
Despite our great relationship, I know I cannot and will not be their main source of information forever. They need to learn how to learn independently, and I think the younger this starts to develop, the better. Although I wouldn’t suddenly abandon my children to figure things out on their own, I have begun to weave independent learning into their daily lives.
What is Independent Learning?
Independent learning is the ability to take charge of our own learning.
It’s what we do when we’re trying to figure out how to replace the chain in the toilet tank. One moment you don’t know how to do it. Then you look at it and try to figure it out. You may go to Google and search for how to replace chain in toilet tank. You’ll read up on what you find and apply that to your situation. Researching the answer and solving the problem are parts of independent learning.
Why is Independent Learning Important?
Independent Learning brings creativity and intellectual curiosity to the surface. It stimulates the brain and encourages your kiddo to figure things out instead of waiting for the answer to be handed to them. They’ll find new ways to solve problems. They’ll begin to feel less panicked when they don’t know and answer because they’ll have experienced that before and squashed that feeling by figuring it out. In return, they feel full and accomplished. They realize that “Hey, I can figure this out!”
An independent learner is persistent and motivated. They take initiative and tend to be (or become) strong readers and writers. If you can read, you can learn anything! If you can write, you can visually work out any intellectual equation.
Any kind of reading. Find a genre that your child loves, and stock up on those kinds of books. Begin at a young age. My three-year-old son is fascinated by the sky and the moon. I’m already getting him astronomy type books. Thankfully he always showed interest in books, but after he realized he could find his moon in them, he became even more interested in what books had to offer.
My kids learn from books, videos, games, conversations, and trial and error. Vary the ways your child acquires knowledge and answers. We enjoy textbooks a lot, but as more and more technology develops, companies are beginning to develop apps and computer programs that are truly amazing! Don’t be afraid to tap into those resources. Varying resources also begins to embed into your kiddo that they can (and should) get creative when it comes to acquiring information about any topic.
Being persistent and encouraging your kiddo when something is hard is super important. Help them to keep pushing through until they accomplish their goal. Sometimes that means pulling them away from it for an afternoon and then coming back to it the next day. That break may be exactly what the brain needs to get the creative juices going!
As you work with your kiddo to become a more independent learner, you’ll begin to see their curiosity develop. Independent learners are very curious, persistent, self-motivating, and incredibly awesome at critical thinking.
What are some methods you’ve used to help your child become more of an independent learner? Do you think this is even a skill your child should develop?