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Fostering Independence

This month’s Homeschool High School Carnival is hosted by Living Without School and we are chatting about:

Nurturing Independence in High School….  To what extent do your highschoolers collaborate in planning their studies, how do you encourage your highschoolers to take the reins of their education, what tools do you use and how is this input communicated?

We have always involved our children in the planning of their studies, by highschool they are full collaborators in directing their education, I discussed this a little previously,
“Planning for our high schoolers is simply a matter of keeping our goals in mind. We plan on a term by term basis, this allows for flexibility to follow interest areas and to quickly adapt plans to address skill areas of greater need.  When planning we do so in consultation with our highschoolers, whilst some subjects are non-negotiable such as the need to spell and write well, the inclusion of some subjects are open to choice and within some subjects there is plenty of potential for autonomy.  For example, although we ask that the children study science, what discipline of science they choose to study and what resources they use are open to their choice….Whilst study towards skill achievement is consistent, if interest changes within the subject area our high schoolers may choose to change focus.  When planning the sciences and humanities, we don’t plan with an overview plan, rather we are guided by interest, working on the assumption that we retain more when interested in the subject matter.”

Discussion is the key to involving our children in the planning and directing of their studies, not only  are they involved in the larger planning at the beginning of each year and term but we ‘check in’ each week with how they are progressing, “do they feel anything needs tweaking/modifying in any way” as this has long been a part of how we work it is by now ‘second nature’ to us all.

Whilst we require our children to study a broad range of subjects, within those disciplines we encourage them to make their own choices as to just what to study. In history this term for example one teen has chosen to study World War 1, whilst two others have chosen the Russian Revolution, whilst I have suggested direction this is open to change if a passion within this develops and a teen would like to delve deeper into one area, the suggested time limits are also subject to change if after discussion it is felt needed.

Much discussion has been ‘entered into’ over the years;) as the to vital need of skill attainment in foundational areas, our children are always keen to know the ‘why’, the reason behind the need for certain skills.  Many times once we’ve answered to their satisfaction they are happy to settle down and achieve their best, sometimes we haven’t answered to their satisfaction but nevertheless if after discussion we still feel it important they will comply.

We perceive our role as facilitators of our teen’s education as twofold, we are continuing to support them in developing good habits (study and otherwise) and we are encouraging them to have a desire to be lifelong learners, questers in taking control of their own education.  It is indeed a privilege to ‘be along for the ride.’

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