How to foster independence in your homeschoolers

Some of our top tips for fostering independence in your homeschoolers. Plus, how you can offer them opportunities to engage with their interests and passions.

We often hear from homeschooling parents looking for suggestions on how to help their homeschoolers become more independent. One of the best gifts we can give to our children is to make sure they are self-sufficient when they leave home.

Fostering independence can start early-often starting around age 7, children start to want to make some of their own decisions and learn how to work and play on their own or with friends.

This is a time when you can start focusing more on guiding decision-making and creating space for reflection and making mistakes. 

As kids grow up, it is essential that they learn how to operate separately from us as parents. This helps them to build their confidence and ability to navigate the complex world. An added bonus as your learners grow and build their independence is that it can free up some of your time as homeschooling parents.

The process of supporting your children in becoming self-reliant learners can take some time, so be patient. And remember, it is worth it as these skills are valuable in their life, and can make your life as a homeschool educator more manageable. 

At Outschool, we believe that by cultivating your children’s passions and interests and allowing them to be self-directed learners, their independence will flourish. 

Here are some of our top tips for fostering independence in your homeschoolers.

Top tips for building independence in your homeschoolers

Co-plan and collaborate with your children

Ask your learners what they are interested in learning. Then map out a lesson plan or activity for learning about that topic. Give them a voice and choice over how they would like to organize the space you have established for your homeschool. And allow them to have some input on your homeschooling schedule. 

Encourage them to use a planner

By using a planner, your learners will learn important skills in managing their workload, which will help them feel independently organized. Outschool ran a fun design contest with Canva, and we have some great academic planners available for free download, which your learners can use.

Share your passions with your learners

Model how to speak about your passions and demonstrate excitement over learning new things. If you love cooking, you can talk about what you love to cook and share new recipes you are learning how to make.

Invite them to join you in cooking and share in your joy. This can help your children learn how to identify and speak about their passions. Plus, kids are more engaged in their learning when it is something they are passionate about.

Find creative ways for your kid to share their passions with peers

Kids love to share their passions with their peers as they can find connection points and help build relationships. Outschool’s Groups are terrific online communities where learners can connect over shared interests.

Provide kids with options for sharing their content knowledge 

Sit down with your learners and brainstorm ideas for how they can demonstrate mastery over a subject. Then, let them choose the option that would work for them by asking them how they would like to share what they have learned. 

It might be a PowerPoint presentation, video, Canva infographic, essay, or any one of their creative ideas.

Suggest outdoor activities

If your homeschool has a safe space for outdoor play, encourage your children to play on their own. It can be a great early step to help them with the courage to be independent.

Offer them opportunities to engage with their interests and passions

Once you’ve identified areas of deep interest to your children, you can bring them books or other resources for them to explore independently. And you can find Outschool classes where they can learn online with other learners from across the globe. Here is just a sampling of the types of passion-driven classes they can engage in:

Give your learners control

Create a period each day (or week) when students take control over their learning. Give them 30-60 minutes to design their own lesson or activity. Then review what interests are uncovered and build those interests into your future lessons or classes. 

Shift your teaching style

Consider the types of questions you pose to your students and check that some are open-ended questions for them to share their independent thoughts.

Provide reflection opportunities

Your learners can more deeply understand what is working in their education if they have opportunities to consider how things are going and how it could be better. 

Other ideas for building independence in your homeschoolers

Want more resources? Outschool offers classes from educators who help parents cultivate independence in learners. 

And these are just a small sampling of how Outschool can help your learners build their independence and pursue their passions. 

Unbound Learners is another great organization that helps parents facilitate the growth of children and young adults who are able to independently think, act, create, play, communicate, collaborate, and participate in the physical and abstract world. 

Let Grow’s mantra is “when adults step back, kids step up.” So if you’re looking for practical exercises and challenges for building your kids’ autonomy, start here. 

Do you have other ideas for fostering independence in your homeschoolers? We hope you will share your ideas with our Homeschool with Outschool Parent Community.

Jennifer WolfeJennifer leads strategic & DEIB partnerships for Outschool. She's a former The Learning Accelerator partner and advisor to many ed tech companies on the development of high-quality K-12 curriculum.

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