Independent learning is a phrase that is often used: yet what it is and how to nurture it, might not be so clearly defined. Put loosely, independent learning is when a student sets goals, monitors and evaluates their own academic development. Or to put it another way, it is the ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge throughout one’s lifetime.
School is the skeletal framework to a student’s education. Nonetheless, it is the extra-curricular activities, inspirational novels, trips abroad, friends and family that provide the sustenance to a well-rounded individual. Learning does not, and ought not, to be limited to within the walls of school. After school, during the school holidays, and upon graduation are prime times to motivate students to take up charge of their own education.
Our Carfax tutors are a prime examples of this; Lydia Fischer-Dooley (Humanities Tutor, Dubai) has just completed an intensive online course in her free time to help students with difficulty in reading and writing.
Lydia said, “The course has strengthened my understanding of how to encourage reading skills and comprehension from an early age, whilst also highlighting technological interventions that can be utilized to support writing development.”
Without having the tools to learn independently, lifelong learning can be a difficult feat to achieve and normalize in everyday life.
For parents, there are many ways to inspire a child to take charge of their own learning. The first is to get excited about a student’s interest with them. If they can’t stop chatting about Ancient Greek Mythology, ask them how, why, who, when, where and what questions to stimulate their engagement with the topic. You can also learn a lot about the given topic too!
Second, invest in “outside the box” resources to foster a creative approach to their given interest. If a student develops an intense interest in nutrition, for example, you can walk them through a supermarket, encouraging them to analyse and discuss the varying ingredients in different foods. Employing a specialist tutor can also seek to provide bespoke, tailored tuition to your child’s interest – taking them far beyond the curriculum.
Third, model to your child the kind of enthusiastic, lifelong learner you would like them to become. Let them see you reading a book or engage them in debates about current affairs. During dinner, educate them about something you discovered recently and ask their perspective.
A final tip is to teach your child the tools to enhance their independent learning abilities. Involve them in decision-making tasks such as planning a family day out (which will involve research skills); setting them a small research project they can undertake in an afternoon; encouraging them to be resilient in the face of challenges and to utilize creativity to solve problems.
These are skills which will set students up for an ever-changing and dynamic world and ensure they have the tools to cherish independent learning and become life long learners.