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Independent learning or Independent working?


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I was recently lamenting to a friend how hard it is to teach multiple grades and she told me it was because my 5th grader isn't independent enough.

 

I'm not sure how independent I want my 5th grader to be so I thought I'd turn to the Hive and see where we should be at.

 

She is a very motivated and conscientious student. She gets going in the morning and works fairly hard, putting forth good effort in all her work. Thing is, I still present the material to her and teach her. For most subjects I do not let her just go off and do things by herself.

 

My friend says she should be mostly working on her own by now and that I need a curriculum change. I disagree. I think that there are some subjects that she can do some self-directed work in, but for the most part, I still think that at 10 I should be teaching her and involved in what she is doing, even if she is capable of doing the work on her own.

 

Am I wrong? I did try to have her teach herself and work through R&S5 (grammar) on her own but she botched a whole bunch, thinking she understood, and had to redo a lot of lessons. Have I failed her somehow that she isn't able to do this on her own?

 

Again, I'm asking how independent she should be in the teaching/learning of a lesson, not the actual work itself. She is more than capable of working on her own once she understands the material.

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You know your child better than anyone else. :)

 

If YOU disagree, then you probably are right. Don't feel pressured to change your curriculum because someone else doesn't agree. As long as your child is learning and making progress then be happy and don't fret over it.

 

However, you might want to consider if there are other ways you can restructure your day so it flows more smoothly with multiple grades.

 

:grouphug:

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I think you made a really important distinction in your title. Just because they are ready to WORK independently doesn't mean they are ready to LEARN independently. The latter would really depend on the child and their bent. Working independently though is something you can work toward. You're probably already doing it and would just benefit from getting it on paper or all tallied so you can shove it in your friend's face. Sometimes friends are dingbats. They assume everyone's house will work like theirs or that your kids will learn like their kids or that your talking means you want them to solve their problems.

 

Don't let her comments make you insecure about what you already know you're doing well. It IS true that they can do quite a bit independently when given enough structure, and I think that's a fair question to think through for yourself. Are there things your dc is needing to come to you for that she could figure out for herself if she had more structure? (clear checklists, assignments written out, post-its in the books, desk for her stuff, whatever)

 

You shouldn't change how you're teaching your child to fit a criticism like that, because, odds are if it would be the right thing for your child right now, you'd already be DOING it. Nobody makes more work for themselves and hangs onto teaching these lessons when our kids are ready to do it for themselves! Even the kids sprout and pull away and ask to do it independently as soon as they think they're able. So if your dc was ready for that, you'd probably be doing it. Sure think about it, but don't change curricula on some magical hope that everything will run like that lady's house. She might not be covering the same subjects or teaching as thoroughly. Her kids may need less instruction or may just be more workbooky. Kids really vary.

 

Remember you can always come on here and rant about your problems. And if you preface it that you just want to let it out, well people won't try to solve your problems either. Sometimes, once you've fixed the things that can be fixed, it's a matter of sucking up and saying that's how it is and getting it done.

 

Oh and my kid? Works independently if it's on a clear checklist. Does it independently of her own initiative if she likes it. But for something like math, any independent work means it was easy for her, application not learning. For actual learning, it's still a sit-down deal. She doesn't like that, so I keep looking for options (online, dvd, etc.). Not very helpful, eh? But that's why I'm saying it totally depends on the kid. It doesn't surprise me at all that someone else has a kid that is totally independent, blah blah. Kids are different, and you have yours to teach, not someone else's.

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As you can see from my signature, I disagree.

 

Do you know that independent work is really working for your friend's dc? Maybe it is working for mom, because she is freed up (for now ;)) a bit, but have you seen evidence of her dd's performance? It is hard to take advice from homeschool friends, because we don't really know how things are working for them.

 

I agree that there is a distinction between independent work and indepenedent learning. That's a great way to put it! My dc are taught in most areas, and especially in the core subjects, but then they have assignments to complete on their own that reinforce the lesson. As you have seen, just assigning the reinforcement work without making sure dc understand the concepts is pointless. You didn't fail her, you are seeing how that educational method could fail her. I would hand on to that lesson.

 

The goal is to have fairly indpendent learners by 18 (though remember, they will still have professors, even in college,) but that doesn't mean you have to start them off that way early. Instead, I believe that we build the core skills they need by spending a lot of time teaching them and then weaning them over the years in a slow, methodical process.

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I'll also agree that independent working isn't the same as independent learning. My 5th grader will usually do her work on her own. In some subjects, she doesn't need a lot of presentation upfront, but she still needs the discussion and feedback. This is a big relief from those younger years when I had to be by her side for each and every math problem that she was assigned, BUT it isn't the same thing as independent learning.

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dd 12 and ds 10 both work on singapore math on their own and have for a few years while. I grade/ check each day. They correct, then we discuss problem areas if they have them.

 

dd12 is trying out AOPS prealgebra. She works on her own each day, then we discuss what she's learned each day. I'm not teaching per se but checking each day to see if she's grabbing what she needs from each work session.

 

ds8 works most of his math alone ( independent work). Other parts I sit beside him with blank paper and demonstrate or teach.

 

This topic is interesting. For me it will also depend on how well I know the subject. When I'm learning it for the first time (Latin for Children), I do more teaching because I don't know what I'm looking for in evaluating their learning.

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As you can see from my signature, I disagree.

 

Do you know that independent work is really working for your friend's dc? Maybe it is working for mom, because she is freed up (for now ;)) a bit, but have you seen evidence of her dd's performance? It is hard to take advice from homeschool friends, because we don't really know how things are working for them.

 

I agree that there is a distinction between independent work and indepenedent learning. That's a great way to put it! My dc are taught in most areas, and especially in the core subjects, but then they have assignments to complete on their own that reinforce the lesson. As you have seen, just assigning the reinforcement work without making sure dc understand the concepts is pointless. You didn't fail her, you are seeing how that educational method could fail her. I would hand on to that lesson.

 

The goal is to have fairly indpendent learners by 18 (though remember, they will still have professors, even in college,) but that doesn't mean you have to start them off that way early. Instead, I believe that we build the core skills they need by spending a lot of time teaching them and then weaning them over the years in a slow, methodical process.

 

:iagree: except I think that they are still independent working at the collegiate level. Professors still teach, have office hours for answering questions, tutoring centers exist, study groups form, etc.

 

The place I hear the emphasis on students independently learning is in the homeschool community. Independent learning is most likely going to be fairly "flat" knowledge-based learning. Moving through the hierarchy of learning requires investigation, discussion/challenge of POV/explaining to others your thoughts, etc.

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I don't homeschool in order that my kids can LEARN independently. I homeschool so that they can learn with me. I think the decision of how much you send your child off to learn independently is family guided. Some love this approach. I am not a fan and am still very involved in teaching them at Jr High and High school levels. However, I do find they WORK independently more than the work with me now. I didn't try to make that change. They just grew into it. They don't need me watching to work independently. Some subjects they even learn independently now. I'm glad they can, but I miss being involved.

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