Independent learning is a method or learning process where learners have ownership and control of their learning – they learn by their own actions and direct, regulate, and assess their education. The independent learner can set goals, make choices, and decisions about how to meet his learning needs, take responsibility for constructing and carrying out his own learning, monitor his progress toward achieving his learning goals, and self-assess the learning outcomes.
The concept of independent learning is associated with improving the educational experiences and outcomes for learners through student-centered learning approaches that personalize learning and enable the learner to take ownership of the learning process.
In other words, you need to be able to do your own research instead of expecting a teacher to give you all the background material you might need.
What is the difference between homeschool and independent study?
Independent learning curriculums like the curriculum provided by Syllabis Learning allow students to learn with little direct teaching and interaction from the parent. Most independent programs have a pre-set program and are meant to be mostly self-instructional.
To become a good independent learner you should be motivated, resilient, ready to overcome challenges, and good with time management.
Why is independent learning important?
The skills you gain with independent learning are transferrable and valuable to most jobs that you will perform. These include motivation, independence, initiative, time management, organization, multi-tasking, strong reading, and writing skills.
Benefits of Independent Learning
The child learns how to read (or listen) for understanding. This is a skill that takes practice, and it is important for standardized tests. When the child is answering questions based on what they have read, it is a way of holding them accountable. They will learn to concentrate as they read because they will know they are going to need to use the information for their homework.
The child learns HOW TO LEARN. When a child has become accustomed to learning independently, they can pick up any book and learn the information in it. This means they can continue a lifestyle of learning throughout the rest of their life. They will never be dependent on someone else to teach them something.
The child has greater freedom to determine their routine. When teachers or parents are not part of the equation for learning a particular subject, the child can schedule that subject any time in their day. This often helps with motivation and effort.
The child learns about their learning style. When teachers or parents are in control of their entire day, they don’t have the opportunity to experiment with different environments, times of day, or methods of learning. By trying to learn on their own, they become more self-aware, discovering how they like to learn, how they learn best, and how they do not.
The child is free to learn at a faster pace. If the child is capable of understanding something well and wants to keep going, he can. He is not held back by a teacher’s lesson planning or availability.
The child learns perseverance and self-reliance. When a child struggles through to success, he has learned a very valuable lesson. Some things don’t come easily, but by not giving up, success is possible.
The child learns initiative. The responsibility for learning is on the child. He needs to do everything he can to find the answers he needs before asking for help. This may mean going back and reviewing previous material, looking for answers to help solve the current problem or answer the current question. (This is a good habit and also helps with studying for tests.)
Independent learning prepares your child for university. University students are expected to take responsibility for their own work, grades, completion of assignments, etc. No university professor is going to hold their hand or even notice if they are struggling, most likely. The student is expected to do the work, find outside resources, and ask for help when they need it. If they are used to it being this way at home, then they won’t feel like they are in over their head in university.
Here are some helpful self-learning techniques to make independent learning more effective.
Find a good study space: Try to avoid things that might distract you. Put your phone in another room, switch off the TV, and sign out of social media. If possible, try to study away from areas where you eat or sleep.
Set goals: A good way to keep your motivation up is to think about what you want to get out of your work and remind yourself next time you are flagging.
Get into a good routine. A good routine can help you avoid that feeling of the whole day slipping away without getting any work done. Try to get started on work at the same time every day and include time for breaks and having fun.
Read actively: You will need to be an active reader, paying close attention to the words you are reading and their meaning.
Skim read: Speed read or skim material before reading it in detail and then summarising the text in your notes.
Go solo: Practice working on your own for long periods without seeking the help of an adult.
Effective time management: In work or unit studies, you are more than likely to have several pieces of work to juggle at any one time. Break each project down into the relevant tasks, work out how long you will need to spend on each part, then allocate time in your diary in order or priority.
Take handwritten notes. Writing out notes by hand might help you to understand and remember the content better. Taking handwritten notes is especially powerful if you try to put things into your own words and do not just copy the language your teacher uses. It can also help to use diagrams to structure your thoughts. This might feel harder at the time, but it will create a stronger memory.
Different sources: When doing research, try to draw from a variety of different sources.
Be persistent: If a task is challenging, do not give up. Keep at it until you understand what you need to do.
Seek help where necessary: Asking for support and advice is an important part of independent learning. Unlike school, you are unlikely to be spoon-fed all the information you need at work or university. If you need help, ask for it!
Discussions: If you want to expand an argument but are stuck on ideas, get a debate going with friends or peers. This could help you think about an element you had not considered before.
Snooze. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to learning well. Try to go to bed at the same time each night, make sure you spend some time outside every day and try to relax in the hours before you go to bed.
Do not forget… Have fun, text your friends, run around! Find a good balance between work and fun. Chatting to your friends and doing some exercise can help you relax and concentrate better when you sit down to study.
It can be easy to feel like we need to be on hand at all times for our children’s homeschooling. We believe it is better to allow them to stretch their wings, to try, maybe fail, but to keep pressing on, with independent learning. It causes a calmer/quieter home environment, less frazzled parents, and kids who know how to take the initiative in learning new things.