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Child as Teacher: The Cure for Education in Isolation

Learning from Home

Often, we assume that because our children, teens and young adults have been raised in a time with ever-changing, ever-evolving and ever-intrusive (!) technology of which they are quite fond and capable of utilizing, that these same children, teens and young adults will seamlessly integrate into online learning programs and have great academic success. Oh, if only it were that easy. If you have been struggling to get your child motivated to complete their online assignments or packets of school work, you are not alone. For many learners, a switch to online learning or home-learning is challenging because it requires a different set of skills, and leaners must be self-directed in their learning to some extent.

Let’s Pause.

I am sure you must be asking yourself “What is self-directed learning?” and “Why do I need to know about it?” Self-directed learning (SDL) is a process when learners take the initiative, with or without the help of others, to identify their learning needs; create learning goals; locate human and material resources for learning; and engage in the learning process. Typically, the learner's own interests and passions influence the educational pathway and adults serve as guides or mentors, rather than teachers. Self-directed learning is accepting of errors as learners are expected to evaluate their work, find mistakes, reflect on potential new solutions, and try again. Because of this, the steps may or may not be linear as learners circle back to revise or modify.

Who Knew?

Basically, learners who are self-directed are better prepared to navigate the educational changes we are currently experiencing. Gone are the daily schedules, strict behavioral expectations, assigned seating and the comfort of knowing “what’s next.” The unknown can be especially challenging for our children and teens, but we can encourage their success by guiding them to be more self-directed.

How to Encourage Self-Directed Learning

Here are some quick and easy tips to encourage your child to be more self-directed. Please keep in mind that changes will not take place instantly and you will need to provide your child with more support as you start to shift the responsibility for learning from a designated system or person, into the hands of your soon-to-be very capable child. Ask your learner to:

  1. Discover what interests them & create some learning goals. This can be as simple as using a KWL chart which is an acronym for "What I Know, What I Want to Know and What I Learned." Use their passions to drive learning and let them set their own (realistic) goals.

  2. Question everything. Think like an inquisitive four-year-old child and ask as many questions as they can. For starters, question the significance of things. “Why does something exist?”, "What purpose does it serve?”, “How did it come to be?” and most importantly, “How can they do it or make it better?”

  3. Be a “solutionary.” Identify a problem that they care about and SOLVE IT! It doesn't get more rewarding than that.

  4. Make a list of topics to master. Start with the background information on each and then work towards more specificity. Create a timeline and some goals for mastering the topics.

  5. Create something from what they have learned and share it with others. This can be a short story, video, art form-- basically anything and everything is fair game to demonstrate their new knowledge. Again, let your child choose the method for sharing.

  6. Focus on the process, not the product. Self-directed learners are in it for the knowledge, not the grades. Believe it or not, grades do not even exist in many self-directed learning environments. (We can talk about assessment in another blog.)

  7. Build a network of support through online and in-person (when appropriate) communities.

Building community is super important. Lucky number 7! And lucky for us, there are many established communities online already to which you can connect. For example, you can subscribe to Trifecta Education’s newsletter, join in on virtual get-togethers for parents and teachers, and find the help and guidance you need to encourage self-directed learning. Trifecta Education also has a members-only Facebook page and we’d love to see you there. (Yes, shameless plugs!) Whatever path you decide to take, Trifecta Education is happy to help. We’ve got the tools, resources and expertise to help you and your family make the best educational decisions for your family.

Interested in learning how you can step-up your child’s education at home? Need some guidance? Visit and contact us for a free consultation today.

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