Help your Child to be a Self-Directed Learner
20 Oct 2015
“One of the hardest things I have found when helping my child is that I don’t understand the homework myself.”
Often, parents are under the impression that to support their child’s learning, they must have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the requirements of the school curriculum. When there is such a perceived lack in this area, parents often feel a sense of confusion and frustration.
Parent can avail themselves on platforms in school to be familiar with what their child is learning and how as parents, you can help your child. However, other ways of supporting your child in learning include:
- Creating a physical environment in the home that is conducive to study, away from distractions that will take your child’s attention from what he/she is doing;
- Dedicating and designating ‘study time’ for your child early in his/her schooling years to establish a routine for study and for play and relaxation;
- Showing your support while your child is completing his/her homework with encouragement and praise;
- Instilling the value of good study habits and attitudes in your child, such as completing homework before the teachers’ deadline, seeking help when in doubt;
- Helping your child to strike a meaningful balance between the demands of school and other out-of-school and personal activities.
The ultimate goal for all parents and educators is to help the child to take responsibility for his/her own learning. In doing so, the child will establish effective learning practices that will carry him/her throughout life’s challenges. Grooming your child to become a self-directed learner involves:
- Providing your child with opportunities and time to pursue his/her interests to a higher level;
- Empowering your child to set his/her own goals and objectives about his/her studies or interests;
- Allowing your child to make decisions about how he/she wants to pursue or achieve his/her goals and objectives (whether in studies or in his/her interests) and the time-frame involved;
- Ensuring that your child understands and is responsible for the consequences of his/her action or non-action as a result of his/her decisions;
- Teaching your child the value of perseverance and resilience when faced with obstacles and dilemmas and using a problem-solving approach when required (see example below); and
An example of how you can help your child become a self-directed learner is to encourage him/her to use a problem-solving approach.
- Giving room and space for your child to make mistakes and to learn from them.
|Parent: ||What are you working on? |
|Child: ||I am preparing for a presentation at Science class next week. The topic is about my favourite plant and how it will grow. |
|Parent: ||Ok. What plants have you thought of? |
|Child: ||Mango tree, durian tree, rain tree … |
|Parent: ||Don’t forget that potatoes, pumpkins, apples, strawberries are obtained from plants too.Any others you can think of? |
|Child: ||We get roses from plants too! |
|Parent: ||Good! We have a long list now. Which plant would you like to choose? |
|Child: ||Durian tree. |
|Parent: ||Alright, you could start by checking out a few websites to see if you can find information on how durians are grown. |
|Child: ||I can’t find much information about durian trees.Do you think I should change it? |
|Parent: ||You could do that. Why don’t you search online about the rest of the plants in the list, then decide on which one you would like to use? |
While this may seem like a simple conversation, you may notice that the parent used some purposeful questions. These questions form the approach to solving problems and can be summarized in four steps:
- Define the problem and describe the desired result.
- Brainstorm the ideas, and decide which idea to use.
- Make a plan.
- Try it out.
Always keep in mind that the process is just as important as the end result. Adopting a problem-solving approach allows your child to assess various options and ideas, and to independently select a solution appropriate for the problem. As a parent, you can help instil this useful approach and equip him/her with an effective set of tools for life.