Signs of Independence

When we started homeschooling I knew I wanted my boys to be more independent.  They were young and I knew it would take time but it is something we began working on right away.

It was actually easier than I thought it would be to teach them to be more independent. 

Here are some tips for teaching independence:
  1. Don't do for them what they can do for themselves; obviously you can help them and even offer to do something for them once in awhile to be nice but for the most part I stopped offering to do things for them or even helping them when they were just being lazy.  
  2. Teach new skills as often as possible.  The more they know how to do the more they will be able and expected to do.  They can't be independent if they don't know how to do anything or use any tools. 
  3. Hold them accountable.  If they had a job assigned to them then they needed to do it.  If their schoolwork was set out for them and they spent all day playing with their toys then they could not watch TV or play video games in the evening until schoolwork was done.  I refused to nag and watch the clock for them.  If they ignored their chores they could not go outside and play. 
  4. Take baby steps.  I knew I wanted them to start playing a more active roll in picking out their schoolwork and to get to that point we started by giving them a few choices each day.  Then we moved onto my asking them to pick out their math work for the day.  Then I moved onto telling them what subjects we should be covering in a day and having them pick out all of their own work. 
  5. Praise and encourage!  It takes awhile for kids to feel confident with any new skills and I found that praise and encouragement were key components to teaching them to be more independent. 
  6. Use teamwork.  Though I was trying to encourage independence, some jobs are easier when approached as a team.  I encouraged the boys to help one another and work together to break jobs down into smaller steps.  

It's been a few years and I'm starting to see some real progress towards Independence.   

Getting ready for the day on their own:
The boys were on their own yesterday morning and did a god job getting themselves ready for their karate class on- time. 

Good thing too because I completely lost of track of time and forgot to remind anyone to get dressed or ready! 

Doing some schoolwork on their own:
When it was time to go Ian and Evan grabbed some schoolwork to complete in the car.  

  • Ian completed two more pages in his measurement math book working with odometer and distance readings.  Then he completed the final page in this week's spelling unit.  
  • Evan finished two pages in his math book that worked with adding and carrying over. I was thrilled to see that he had no problems remembering how to do this and got them all right working on his own in the back of the car.  He also filled in a short vowel page where he had to unscramble the letters and write the words to match the pictures.

    Karate went well and the boys worked on rolls and break falls as well as the usual forms and moves.  They seemed to be laughing and having fun so that's always good.

    We listened to The Red Pyramid book on CD in the car and today all three boys sat and kept listening to it long after we pulled into the garage.  They're all starting to enjoy it tremendously.

They make many of their own meals:
We finally had to turn off the book though and went to make lunch.  Alec made pita chips and hummus.  Evan made himself some chicken nuggets, applesauce, and crackers.  Ian made himself a sandwich with some crackers and pickles.  

They've started working together and teaching each other too:
I read another chapter in Harry Potter during lunch & then after Ian read 4 pages of the Hunger Games book aloud.  I read the rest of the chapter and, once again, we found Alec moving to be near enough to hear the story.  He had a few questions after the story and Ian did a good job answering them for him.  

Ian still relies a lot on what he watched in the movie to help him make sense of what he's reading but I don't mind.  He's pretty good about asking me to define the new vocabulary words we come across and his decoding skills are growing by leaps and bounds each day.

When Ian was done I quizzed him on his spelling words and then he went outside to play with Evan.

They've started taking ownership of their schooling; telling me what they want and need to do:
Evan had read Howie Wants to Play and declared himself done school though he did remind me that we had to do something fun and Harry Potterish and not to forget to call him back inside for it. We made raising float using ginger ale and density layered jars.  We also learned about frogs and watched a nature video.  That satisfied his Harry Potter request for the day. 

Alec wanted to be quizzed on his spelling words and got them all right today (though I was baffled because he still has not formally worked with them at all).  He then went on to complete two pages in his math book on prime numbers and factors.

They play together by themselves more often:
The boys headed outside to play together.  They rode bikes, played on the swings and started a game of wiffle ball.  They had asked me to come out and pitch for them but I took a good 15 minute break to myself; I knew I needed some peace and quiet.

They are content to follow their own interests without prompting from me:
After pitching for a bit we all noticed that we could hear some new, louder, and different croaking all the way from our from our yard and followed the sounds to the swamp.  We all remarked on the fact that yesterday the swamp only had a few birds in it and today it was filled with peeping frogs and loads of sun turtles.  Evan and I walked around 3/4 of it and we heard a loud splash, saw some rather large ripples, & knowing that we were near a beaver den, we're pretty sure it was a beaver.  We saw a few spots where the beavers had cut down trees and started trying to give them a rough dating by the color of the stump that they left behind.  Evan was telling me all about beavers and how much he learned through Wild Kratts episodes about them.

Alec pitched at first 

Beaver marks 

"here beaver, beaver, beaver" He kept calling and looking

They ask to learn new skills and offer help:
We ended our afternoon with the boys practicing their archery with my husband.  Ian and Alec kept trying to keep score and we were able to practice a lot of math skills.  They added up scores; assigning each color of the target a point value.  They also kept trying to figure out how many arrows they would each get and so we did a little division practice too and I reminded them about remainders.

We added a second larger foam target 

We headed inside to prepare dinner and Alec offered to cook the steak on the grill with the help of my husband while Ian peeled potatoes and learned how to make mashed potatoes.  He also cooked some corn to go with our meal and Evan set the table.

It's amazing to see how helpful the boys are becoming.  Alec was actually jumping up and down begging to cook the steaks.  He's really falling in love with the whole grilling thing.  Dinner was delicious and all the boys cleaned up and did their chores when we were done. 


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