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Learning To Learn Independently

As I often say on this blog, our goal as homeschool parents is NOT to teach something. Our goal is for our kids to LEARN.  Sometimes they will learn how to learn a subject on their own, without having a teacher teach them.


I believe that older teens MUST learn how to teach themselves. If they go to college, they will be expected to learn all the textbook material on their own. College lectures are most often supplemental to the textbook – not the same. If they don’t go to college, they will still have to teach themselves some computer skills, or online banking, or how to buy a car – whatever. Learning to teach yourself is a critical life skill.

I could have taught my kids “at grade level” and they would have not learned a thing. Instead, I gave them curriculum at their ability level, and then they had to learn something that they didn’t already know.  When we got into high school, some of things that we "at their ability level" were truly above my ability level.  I thought I was stuck, and unable to teach them.  I felt inadequate.  How could I teach them subjects I didn't know myself?

My kids taught themselves Advanced Math (pre-Calculus) and Calculus. They taught themselves physics.  I gave them the answer key and the textbook, and they read the books and worked on their daily work using the answer key until they felt comfortable with the concepts.  I know they knew the material because I gave them the tests.  When I gave them a test, I went shopping, taking the answer key with me.  When I returned from the grocery store, they were done with the test, and I would use the answer key myself to make sure my kids answers matched the answers on the key.  The answers had to be exact, because I didn’t know what the calculus symbols meant.  If the answers weren't exact, my children would contact the email or telephone support provided by the homeschool textbooks to get some clarification.

I could have taught them Biology and Chemistry (because I’m an RN and I know that stuff) but they actually taught themselves that as well. It just worked out better for us when they were teaching themselves, while I just checked up on them from time to time. Alex taught himself economics, and is now doing graduate level work in economic thought (we’ve been told by his professor.) He even taught himself psychology and business law, because he got fabulous grades on the college level CLEP exams in those subject. Your children may not teach themselves in EVERY subject, but parents can feel confident in allowing their children to learn things on their own. When children use a video tutorial for the first time, that does NOT mean the homeschool parent is a failure, and failing to teach.  Instead, it means the child is becoming an adult, and learning how to learn by teaching themselves.

Here’s my point: kids will teach themselves something when they are interested in it. It’s fine for kids to do that, and it works out great for kids that are working on an intensely academic, college-prep curriculum as well as for kids that are in a relaxed homeschool environment.



I’ve recently been connecting with friends on LinkedIn.  I invite you to send me an invitation if you want to connect with my business.
Setting the Records Straight vs. Total Transcript ...
20/20 Homeschool Hindsight
 

Comments 9

Guest - Rebecca G. (website) on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 07:43

Lee,

I love that you mentioned that the teens should be learning, not that we should be teaching them. I think that's what colleges and universities like about a homeschooled kid--that they are self-starters. Our children are learning to learn on their own, without us having to push them.

My oldest is learning his physical science on his own. I'm not holding his hand or reading to him. He is responsible for learning the content. I love that his siblings are seeing that, too.

Even my youngest, who is 6 years old, is loving to learn to read. That will take her a long way to learn other content.

Rebecca G.

Lee, I love that you mentioned that the teens should be learning, not that we should be teaching them. I think that's what colleges and universities like about a homeschooled kid--that they are self-starters. Our children are learning to learn on their own, without us having to push them. My oldest is learning his physical science on his own. I'm not holding his hand or reading to him. He is responsible for learning the content. I love that his siblings are seeing that, too. Even my youngest, who is 6 years old, is loving to learn to read. That will take her a long way to learn other content. Rebecca G.
Guest - Audrey on Monday, 23 May 2011 15:26

To add another note. He contacted the companies on his own when he had trouble. He even found an error in a curriculum book that he pointed out to the writer when he called them!

To add another note. He contacted the companies on his own when he had trouble. He even found an error in a curriculum book that he pointed out to the writer when he called them!
Guest - Audrey on Monday, 23 May 2011 15:24

We just graduated our oldest yesterday! Starting with the Apologia's Exploring Creation with General Science (7th) and then Physical Science (8th) and probably Biology too, I printed a schedule for him that was available on a website. (Am I allowed to share that here Lee?) I believe that with Chemistry (10th), followed by Physics (11th), and Human Biology (12th),he had a flow for the courses and devised his own schedule (in his head. My son is VERY organized. This was true for all of his courses. Junior high might have been laid out for him (by me, but as high school progressed, he developed his own schedule and I just did the corrections! He is on his way to college!!!!

We just graduated our oldest yesterday! Starting with the Apologia's Exploring Creation with General Science (7th) and then Physical Science (8th) and probably Biology too, I printed a schedule for him that was available on a website. (Am I allowed to share that here Lee?) I believe that with Chemistry (10th), followed by Physics (11th), and Human Biology (12th),he had a flow for the courses and devised his own schedule (in his head. My son is VERY organized. This was true for all of his courses. Junior high might have been laid out for him (by me, but as high school progressed, he developed his own schedule and I just did the corrections! He is on his way to college!!!!
Guest - Deb on Thursday, 10 March 2011 09:09

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN! I couldn't agree more!

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN! I couldn't agree more!
Guest - Meryl van der Merwe (website) on Thursday, 29 July 2010 09:17

I can attest to the fact that allowing kids to teach themselves is the best way to go. My oldest is now in her 3rd year at college (but registered as a senior as her AP credits put her a year ahead) and she has had no trouble at all doing a pretty tough honors program. I grade my kids work to make sure they are doing everything correctly and to make sure they keep on target (boys are not so good at keeping to a schedule!) but my kids do study alone. When they are stuck with a subject my husband or I can help with, they ask us. Otherwise they google for answers,look for Youtube videos (there are some great Advanced Physics ones) or ask someone who knows the subject. This process of figuring out things they don't understand is essential to their being able to continue educating themselves as they continue their adult lives.

I can attest to the fact that allowing kids to teach themselves is the best way to go. My oldest is now in her 3rd year at college (but registered as a senior as her AP credits put her a year ahead) and she has had no trouble at all doing a pretty tough honors program. I grade my kids work to make sure they are doing everything correctly and to make sure they keep on target (boys are not so good at keeping to a schedule!) but my kids do study alone. When they are stuck with a subject my husband or I can help with, they ask us. Otherwise they google for answers,look for Youtube videos (there are some great Advanced Physics ones) or ask someone who knows the subject. This process of figuring out things they don't understand is essential to their being able to continue educating themselves as they continue their adult lives.
Guest - Charlene on Tuesday, 27 July 2010 08:37

My daughter is a junior this year. This is our second year of homeschooling. She asked me last week if she could start the year yesterday! And, she did. She gave me her input on lesson plans, and she decided to try a subject a day appro...ach. We will try it for 4 weeks to see how it goes. She finished her Anatomy and Physiology yesterday (2 chapters with tests - 100 on both tests) and has finished one chapter of Algebra II this a.m. with 100 on that test! She is working on the second chapter now. She has set up a system that works for her - I am so proud! It is so much better than pouring information into her brain and having her regurgitate it. She has found the best way for her to LEARN! Oh, and she has a severe case of ADD. Homeschooling is one of the best decisions we have ever made!

My daughter is a junior this year. This is our second year of homeschooling. She asked me last week if she could start the year yesterday! And, she did. She gave me her input on lesson plans, and she decided to try a subject a day appro...ach. We will try it for 4 weeks to see how it goes. She finished her Anatomy and Physiology yesterday (2 chapters with tests - 100 on both tests) and has finished one chapter of Algebra II this a.m. with 100 on that test! She is working on the second chapter now. She has set up a system that works for her - I am so proud! It is so much better than pouring information into her brain and having her regurgitate it. She has found the best way for her to LEARN! Oh, and she has a severe case of ADD. Homeschooling is one of the best decisions we have ever made!
Guest - Lee (website) on Tuesday, 27 July 2010 08:18

Lisa and Karen,
I'll post the answer as a blog post as soon as possible :-)
Blessings,
Lee

Lisa and Karen, I'll post the answer as a blog post as soon as possible :-) Blessings, Lee
Guest - karen on Tuesday, 27 July 2010 05:59

I would like to know the answer to Lisa's question too. Especially when it comes to science and the labs.

I would like to know the answer to Lisa's question too. Especially when it comes to science and the labs. :)
Guest - Lisa Smith on Monday, 26 July 2010 20:53

Hi Lee,
How did they teach themselves Biology? Did they do dissections and was it a lab course? I am planning to teach them Apologia Biology this year, but it's the one subject I didn't think they could teach themselves, even though they're waaay more gifted in science than I am. Did you just give them the book and a schedule and let them go for it? I would really love to know, as I'm feeling very intimidated by the time requirements of Biology! Thanks so much!

Hi Lee, How did they teach themselves Biology? Did they do dissections and was it a lab course? I am planning to teach them Apologia Biology this year, but it's the one subject I didn't think they could teach themselves, even though they're waaay more gifted in science than I am. Did you just give them the book and a schedule and let them go for it? I would really love to know, as I'm feeling very intimidated by the time requirements of Biology! Thanks so much!
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