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3 TIPS to help your child become a successful independent learner: By Maya Thiagarajan

As parents, we are always managing and balancing opposing forces.

On the one hand, more than anything else, we want to protect our children and keep them safe and happy. If there’s a way to shield them from life’s cruelty and harshness, we want to do that. On the other hand, we all know that children have to eventually venture into the world, on their own, and make their own way. Too much protection can prevent them from gaining the confidence and skills needed to navigate the world independently.


When it comes to our children’s education, too, we may want to protect them. Can we protect them from failure? If they forget to do their homework, can we write a note to the teacher making up an excuse to protect them from unpleasant consequences? If they have an issue with a teacher, can we rush to school with a complaint and protect them from dealing with it themselves? If they are struggling with an assignment, can we do the work for them and protect them from feeling frustrated and inadequate?


However, let’s consider the consequences of too much protection. When we rush in to save our children from every form of discomfort or failure, we often prevent them from learning the key skills that they will need to navigate the world on their own. We prevent them from developing resilience, time management skills, communication skills, and the ability to manage their own relationships. The fact is that too much protection can actually backfire and harm our children.


As our children grow up, perhaps we need to consider the balance between protection and preparation more carefully – ironically, perhaps it’s the preparation for the real world that will eventually be the best protection that we can give our children.


Here are 3 things that you can do to help your children develop their own independent learning skills, particularly as your child moves from offline school to online school:


1. Don’t hover and micromanage your child’s online classes: Now that your child is attending school from the comfort of your home, you might be tempted to attend school along with your child. It’s true – there are some parents who are sitting in on classes, much to their children’s horror and their teachers’ dismay. Don’t be that helicopter parent! Give your child a quiet space for her classes, help her organize her materials, and then don’t disturb her. The first step to helping your child become an independent learner is to give her the space and time to practice learning independently.


2. Help your child develop Time Management Skills: Instead of continuously micromanaging your child’s learning, help your child learn how to manage his own time. Make sure that he enters all classes and assignments in google calendar, and also have your child make daily to-do lists each morning for the day ahead. In the evenings, if necessary, sit with your child to see what he/she accomplished and what work is still pending. The goal should be to help your child eventually learn how to manage his or her own time and meet all deadlines without too much stress.



3. Help your child communicate proactively and respectfully with teachers: As children grow older, they need to learn how to communicate in professional and respectful ways. If your child needs additional support or help with an academic task, ask her to attend “office hours” and speak directly with the teacher. If she has a concern or complaint, ask her to email the teacher directly and request an individual meeting to discuss the issue. Remind your child to craft polite and professional emails – if your child doesn’t know how to do this, please teach him! Don’t jump in-between your child and his or her teacher. Let them navigate their relationship on their own, as much as possible.

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