self-directed-learning: the art of independence

Self-directed learning: a new term evolving from the unschool movement.

I’ve spent my early years lapping up all things John Holt and John Taylor Gatto. I even radically unschooled for six solid months until we were bored out of our trees.

We gradually transitioned to a self-directed learning.

We are no longer unschoolers. For a long time I referred to us as classical unschoolers. Now I see that we have a rather traditional looking day, so unschoolers would understandably balk. But we do it in a very child directed way, so there is a distinct academic focus, so classical homeschoolers would raise eyebrows too.

How we expect them to do their work.

If they can learn to work on their own, they make my role a lot easier of course. But I would go further and suggest it is necessary that they learn independence, as soon as they can handle it because it’s a life lesson they’ll need to learn later.

They’re not going to have me summarizing their hundred pages of textbook reading in their first year English Lit class or brush their teeth before their first date. And I’m not going to their first job to flip burgers or steam milk. The process to get them to this place is a daily occurrence. If they can do something on their own\, they should.

That might begin with following a daily chore list where the child sees her name on the fridge and knows to go empty the garbage (or have a big sister tell him what his chore is if he’s not yet reading). It’ll eventually means that the child knows she’s got to have breakfast, grooming, and chores complete before the nine o’clock study start.

May 2013 023

If you’re thinking what I think you might be thinking, how do I get my kid to do this stuff? Well, there’s no free-flowing, follow my whims, do whatever I want approach in my household; well not all of the time anyway. There is definitely loads of free play, but there are times when there isn’t. If they’re taught to listen when they’re little, they’ll listen when they’re older, mostly.

If they’re given tasks that they can handle, they become confident that they can do things independently. Gradually, based on the child’s abilities, their independence grows over time. All the while, they’re not being compared to someone else, they’re simply expected to do the best that they can do, every time.

May 2013 025

And all this is important in their present daily existence because they can learn to work independently, now. If they work independently, they have more freedom to pursue their interests with full presence of their minds.

Preview Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Thrive, Not Just Survive