I locked the bathroom door and plopped myself down on the toilet. I didn’t have to go to the bathroom, but I did need a minute without anyone needing me for something. Inevitably less than two minutes after I sat there, I heard a knocking on the door. It seemed like my quick respite from the day would not happen.
Can any of you relate? We play such a huge role in our kids’ small world. However one of the challenges that we’ve been working in on our house is to develop our kids independence as they grow and develop. The idea of raising kids as young adults is something that I try to keep in the forefront of my mind with everything that we do in homeschooling. Since they are generally with us the majority of our time, it is easy for them to constantly be relying on us for a lot of things. From getting every meal as well as snacks to making sure they have their school calendar is ready with their assignments to helping them with tech support. The list of things that seem to be demanded from us on a daily basis can seem like quite a lot.
This idea of becoming independent can be a tricky thing during the homeschooling years. However it is totally possible to guide them through these schooling years to grow into an adult that is capable of going out into the real world and thriving as an independent human being.
How do we raise kids who are not completely dependent on us for what seems like every aspect of life if indeed we are homeschooling them? This has been a challenge that I have worked on a lot over the past few years and I am consistently working on. Depending on where your child is at in school age you can develop a learning plan that breeds independence. What that may look like for younger kids is simply scheduling an hour or two each day and labeling it as creative time. During this time you as a parent/teacher are off-limits. If they have questions about something they can write it down and they can ask you later or if they get really excited and want to tell you some thing they can wait till this time is over.
When I started doing this with my kids I had a lot of guilt because I felt like I was abandoning them and I couldn’t really understand how this would be fruitful. But let’s face it, we are around each other all the time and having an hour or two break from each other was actually really beneficial for all of us. I got a break from being constantly needed and my kids grew in their independence and their self identity as a problem solvers.
Another way that our household has grown independence in my children is having them write the schedule out for the school day. I give them a loose list of what needs to get done and they can have the authority to schedule the day as they want to. Each kid gets one day a week to write out a schedule for the day. This is not only excellent practice in being self directed, it also working that executive functioning part of the brain which is responsible for organizing tasks. It’s a great independence booster to realize that one day when they go to college or they’re preparing for the first job that they are able to be in control of their own day.
Another thing that you can try is to take one day of the week and if they are older give them their daily assignment and have them be totally responsible for the reading, any written work, and any activities that go along with the day. Of course if they do need you, you are still under the same roof. Of course this would only work if the work they are doing is review and there is no new content. Additionally this would be best for middle schoolers or highschoolers unless you have an advanced upper elementary school child. You can give them a physical planner that they are responsible for writing their assignments in and then crossing off as they go along, or there are many online school planners and apps that you can pick from where you can plug assignments in and they can see them and check them off as they go along.
An important factor that contributes to your kids’ independence is the ability to make mistakes. When you give your kid space and time to work, play, discover away from you and mistakes happen that’s a part of the learning process. If we constantly hover over our children cleaning up their messes, correcting every mistake as soon as it happens, it sends a message to the kid that they are not capable of being on their own and they always need mom to help out. I encourage you to give your kids the space and time they need and to be off limits and watch your kids’ self sufficiency increase.
It is important to guide your child with growing these skills of independence. I think so often people forget that children still need to be taught how to develop organizational skills. They don’t just come out of the womb knowing how to plan and self guide. So with your guidance and plenty of time to spend figuring out how to navigate assignments and free time, they can grow in their own independence. Homeschooling is really a great opportunity to grow these young adults into people who will not only be incredibly independent but who will be responsible and a contributing part of societ