How to Develop Independent Learning in Teens

Thinking of life skills: Here’s how to develop independent learning in teens.

How to Develop Independent Learning in Teens. Tips for helping teens develop independent learning skills.

How to Develop Independent Learning in Teens

One of the best gifts we can give our teens is the skill of independent learning. You have probably noticed that independent learning is an important part of adulting:

  • College students must be independent learners
  • Students in trade schools are expected learn on their own
  • Anyone with a job will have some things they must figure out on their own
  • If they get married and have children, those relationships require lots of learning in order to be successful

How can you develop independent learning in teens?

Training teen so to practice independent-learning skills depends on the personality of your teen. There are three types of teens (at least, regarding how much independent learning they show naturally).

  • Some teens are born independent learners
  • Some teens want to learn independently but do not know how
  • Some teens are reluctant learners and resist assignments

Let’s address ways to promote independent learning in each type.

Help your teen develop independent learning skills for self-confidence and life preparation.

Born independent learners

Some kids are just born with drive, motivating interests and ability to organize their studies. They may be a minority but they are there! They will daily decide what to work on and how long and then will finish assignments on time.

Tips for born independent learners:

  • Involve them in the choice of courses and curriculum
  • Ask them if they want help setting up a schedule of studies
  • Agree on a weekly check-in point
    • This is important for these teens, not that they really need for you to check in, but if you do not do a weekly check-in they feel as if you do not care. That does not work for teens anymore than it would work for you if you had a boss that gave you a project and never checked in to see how it was going.
  • If you find that your homeschool high schooler is hyper-conscientious and does not know when to stop studying discuss work/life balance in your weekly check-ins.

Wants to learn independently but does not know how

Many homeschool high schoolers have an internal desire to own more and more of their academics. It gives them a feeling of self-confidence to know they can manage most of their studies. However, many of those same teens have no clue where to start on organizing their studies.

Tips for teens who want to learn independently but do not know how:

You can help them by making Study Skills part of a Life Skills elective. Make it a course that you work on together (after all, some of us moms could use some help with the time management component.)

  • Plan the course together. Cover topics like:
  • After they have a grasp on these skills, work together to apply them to their easiest courses
  • After they manage independent learning with these easier courses, apply the skills to more challenging courses
    • It is perfectly okay and normal for teens to need instruction and guidance on any challenging material, so no guilt trips!

Reluctant learners who resist assignments

Not all teens are called to be scholars. God created all kinds of teens and it is right for them to become the adults he created them to be. Nevertheless, independence skills are important and independence skills can be applied to learning.

Tips for reluctant learners who resist assignments:

Hold to realistic expectations. Why push for college-prep courses if the result will be a lot of arguing and stress? Bring the course levels down to average (or remedial, for those with learning issues).

I have had moms push back on this strategy before saying that they did not want to close any doors to college. This is true, you do not want to close college doors, but students who have the history of reluctance tend to be better fits for community college for starting. At most community colleges, incoming students are given placement tests and start where they need to be. So, there is no worry about getting into a college. With this approach, moms and teens can enjoy high school together, rather than pushing and irritation for four years.

God has plans for every teen. As they develop independent learning skills they can gain confidence to seek and find those plans.

How to Develop Independent Learning in Teens

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

2 Replies to “How to Develop Independent Learning in Teens”

  1. Michael,
    Thank you for being a father who cares about his children. I cannot do counseling over the internet but I can point you in a direction with a couple of resources:
    -Make sure your children have no intent to harm themselves: Suicide Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/
    -Do your best to continue both with counseling and medication via telehealth
    -Pull back the rigor of the studies for now, you can catch up over the summer. Maybe do audiobooks and artwork for a while. Show them the resources in our store and see interest them. We will work with you on the financial part of the resources. Contact vicki@7SistersHomeschool.com

  2. Hello. My name is Michael and I am desperate for help. I have my 16 year old daughter who suffers from depression and did not acclimate to 9th grade at all. I had her in group therapy and one on one therapy but she continued to suffer. The school Psychologist said I needed to home school her. I began home schooling and because of her depression she could not focus. She lagged behind and a teacher told me to freeze her classes until I got her intensive help. I was working with different therapists, groups , psychologists and psychiatrists to help her to get back to her studies and try to find that educator that would make a connection with her. Then the covid virus isolation began and now my youngest is at home doing the homeschool studies and she is depressed and not doing well at all. I feel like I have failed them and I don’t know what to do to help them. I am a mechanical person by nature. A retired disabled Union Journeyman Wireman. I can fix damn near anything but I am lost when it comes to my daughters education. School was the only place they wanted to be until High School. Great grades and a love of learning until 9th grade. Now they both hate school. I am struggling financially because of a divorce we are suffering thru for over 3 years. The court does not help. Overwhelming debt caused by their judicial system. But I digress. I just need to find what will work to get my girls on track and getting them the best education possible so they have a secure future! Please contact me with any ideas you may have. Thank you . My children mean the world to me and I need to find what will help them. It is strange but with all the educators and professional therapists I have reached out to they seem like they have never experienced this situation with children before or they just don’t know what to do!

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