A key responsibility we have as homeschooling parents is to teach teens how to be independent learners. One of the easiest strategies to reach this goal is to use the tools provided with your curriculum, like parent and student guides. The information is already laid out for you, so it makes sense to start there.
When should kids start being more autonomous in school? If you have tweens or teens, the answer is now. Seriously.
It will take a while for teens to build up this skill, so you need time to teach the process, for them to practice, and to recover from the mistakes they’ll make.
Ultimately, the goal is to raise young adults who can think and learn independently and BookShark’s student and parent guides make it simple for teens to start taking ownership of their school work.
As a BookShark Brand Ambassador, I received a copy of their Level J program in exchange for monthly reviews. All opinions expressed are mine – my disclosure policy.
Giving Teens Control of Their Schoolwork
I know it’s hard thinking about letting go of the reigns and trusting your kids with their education, but it’s a necessary step in their development. It’s crucial that older kids learn how to complete their lessons without you holding their hand or spoon-feeding them information. As I said, BookShark’s guides make this incredibly easy.
The first thing you should do as you’re transitioning toward independent learning in your homeschool is to bring your teens into the decision-making process. Let them have a say in curriculum choices, which assignments they’ll complete, as well as how and when the work will be done. When you collaborate together, you’re showing your kids that you have confidence in them. It also gives them internal motivation to do their work.
At the beginning of this process, don’t just show teens how to set up their school work schedule and walk away. You still need to be there, walking beside them, coaching them toward autonomy.
Be able to step in when needed, but resist the urge to jump in and take control when they stumble. Instead, take them through the process again, focusing on where they struggled.
How to Teach Teens to Be Independent Learners With BookShark Guides
The easiest and most straightforward independent learning strategy is to choose a curriculum that includes weekly schedules. It’s a perfect plan for families with teens who are just starting to learn on their own.
This is one reason we love BookShark. Their Level J All-Subject Package includes both parent and student guides for each school subject. These guides include detailed schedules that make it easy for you to show your teens how to plan their school days.
Both guides tie together and look very similar. A key difference is that the parent guide has suggested answers to the discussion questions to help you when reviewing your student’s work. Because the guides contain the same information in a similar format, it’s simple to talk to your teen about her lessons.
Each subject’s guide includes a week-at-a-glance outline that gives both the student and the parent a snapshot of what is expected over the week in that school subject. Then, each day is expanded with more detailed daily assignments.
- the reading assignment
- discussion questions related to the reading
- extra activities to complete (like timeline and mapping)
- spelling and vocabulary words and a writing assignment (for language arts)
Sit down with your teens at the beginning of the week and go over the student guide for each subject you want them to work on independently. Talk through each day and highlight the assignments they should complete.
Encourage them to put the current week’s scheduled pages in the front of their notebook, so they won’t be distracted by the sheets for later weeks.
Then, as they start their school day, have them pull out their notebook and begin going through the lesson plan, step-by-step until they complete everything that’s been assigned for the day. If they have questions or need clarification, they should come to you, but otherwise, encourage them to follow the student guide.
To make it easy for you to monitor their progress, have them mark off each item on the study guide when they finish. At the end of the week, go over what they’ve accomplished, check their work, and review the following week’s plans together.
Since they won’t be waiting for you to give them their next assignment, they can easily move from one lesson to the next. In fact, I leave it up to my kids to plan out their day. It doesn’t matter to me if they want to stick with a subject until they finish or if they want to switch lessons every hour, as long as the work gets done.
By encouraging personal time management, you give them the chance to make mistakes, deal with the consequences of mishandled time, and learn how to make adjustments now, when the stakes are lower. Trust me, they’ll quickly realize that when they stay focused and on task, they are rewarded with time to do more fun activities.
This process teaches them how to set goals and keep track of their own studies and progress.
When you start to transition your tween over to independent learning, you’ll most likely spend a few weeks reviewing the same thing over and over. Remember that everyone learns at their own pace.
Things to Do As Teens Begin to Learn Independently
Here are a few things to help you and your teen be successful in this process.
- Set expectations and hold your tween to them, but be flexible too, especially in the beginning. Keep in mind that they’re learning a new skill, so they’re going to struggle to stay on task and complete everything. However, make it clear that you expect them to complete the work that you’ve both agreed to.
- Be realistic with the schedule. Make sure there is plenty of time for them to get their lesson plans done each week. Keep in mind your family’s schedule and don’t push them unnecessarily. It may take them longer to work through the lesson plans on their own than if you were telling them what to do.
- Remain present, but at a distance.
- Let your kids fail. Trust me, I know this is hard. But when you let them learn from their mistakes, you’re giving them an amazing gift and teaching them a crucial life skill.
While it’s important to guide your teens toward independent learning, the process doesn’t have to be a burden. Make life easier by using BookShark’s Level J All-Subject Package and the guides included in the program to get your older kids taking more responsibility for their school work.
If you’d like to know more about this all-in-one package, take a look at why this is the perfect curriculum for busy moms, how fun BookShark science is for teens, and what makes BookShark history unique.