So many homeschooling families worry about teaching older kids, and how their kids will keep up with the workload, but the truth is, most older kids can work independently. Removing this burden to teach all the material to your child, can give you more time to focus on teaching a few more important subjects to them, in sha Allah.
However, moving from complete parent involvement to independent work, is not something that happens overnight, but with a little patience over the course of a few years, your child can in sha Allah completely take-on the reigns of certain subjects in your homeschool. Here are 4 steps to help your child become more independent.
1. Time Management
Time management can be tough for young children, as it seems like there is so much time to procrastinate. So often “tomorrow”, seems to have 36 hours in the day for them, where all their work will magically get done! The phrase I use with my kids are,
“Do what you HAVE to do,
do what you WANT to do!”
In sha Allah, I want them to know the feeling of accomplishing all their work for today, and know that any free time they think they have, is actually free time, and not just time they are avoiding work that’s due.
Time management is a big skill in itself, and can take years worth of practice. Even as an adult, many of us struggle with time management. Find tools that work for your family to aid with using your time wisely. I like using Tomato Timer to get short bursts of work done. This way I’m only committing 25 minutes before I take a break, which always seems reasonable! There are a vast array of tools, apps, gadgets and gizmos to keep track of your time. Have fun finding something that works for you and your child.
2. Self Scheduling
In your child’s earlier years, you likely scheduled all their courses throughout the day, or if they were previously at a regular school, their day was laid out for them without any room for negotiation. Self scheduling means that your child is starting to be more self-aware. As your child gets older and more independent, they can choose the best time to do their work. Some kids work best in the mornings because they see a decline in energy in the afternoon (or you might notice this for them). Other kids might work best after lunch, and have to do some of the softer subjects in the morning.
Whatever works best for your family, it is important to learn your child’s prime times for high concentration, to acquire new skills, and to work on the toughest subjects during the time that is most productive. As for everything else, let your student start deciding in what order they will do their courses on a day to day basis. This helps them start to see the bigger picture, including activities for the week, and other events they may have to consider when scheduling their days.
3. Self Assessment with Supervision
Have you ever had to do a self assessment at your workplace? It helps you to take a step back and review your own work, thereby seeing it through the eyes of your supervisor. The same goes for students and their own work. It’s easy for them to look at a piece of paper with all the right blanks filled in, thinking they have done a fantastic job. Let them take a rubric to their own work and grade themselves. Did they meet all the points? Did they do the bare minimum to fill in the worksheet and make it look like they did the work? What grade would they give themselves? How does this compare to the final grade they get from their parent? It easiest to start the self assessments with curriculum that come with pre-made rubrics, or using a general rubric, so your student is well aware of the expectations. Without a solid grading plan, it’s easy to have a disagreement in what counts as high quality work.
4. Self Grading
The last step to full independent learning is self grading. By now your child should be able to schedule their day, use their time appropriately, and be able to recognize quality work. This does not mean you are 100% hands-off from now on, but it does mean that you can spend a little less time grading work and a little more time on other endeavors. Alhamdulilah, the time when students are independent, is a rewarding time both for the child and the parents. With regular check-ins to ensure continuing quality, it can be a fantastic step to their college years, in sha Allah.
My one piece of advice with self grading is either to use a very specific rubric, or only do this in subjects where it is clear whether an answer is right or wrong. My daughter grades her own math work and things that are multiple choice. Essay components need to be graded by me, because it is hard to see gaps in logic or other high level aspects of your own work, at least for a youth. Again, it’s not time for Mom to walk away, but this is a good time to start handing over the reigns to your capable student, in sha Allah.
Do you have some tips to share on independent work for your student? How do you organize it and grade completed work? Write your ideas in the comments below and share the knowledge!