Independent Learning: Effective Preparation for College and a Career

Posted on October 24 2013

An effective online high school program is one that prepares the child academically and emotionally for higher levels of achievement. That is why we at The American Academy highly encourage parents to lead and guide their children to become independent learners.

Here are some of the skills an independent learner has that will make him ready to take on the challenges of college and a future career:

  • Intuitively understanding of the process of learning. Rather than simply repeating what is said in the lesson, independent learners work towards understanding why and how a concept works. This means the concern is not more on rote memory but to scrutinize, and even test, a certain concept, develop their own arguments and finding their own sources of information about that concept.
    What you can do: As a learning coach, you can encourage this by guiding the child through the steps he needs to take in order to solve a problem, learn a lesson or complete a project.
  • Can work independently and collaboratively. This is an important skill to learn, not just as a preparation for college, but also as a future employee or entrepreneur. Becoming an independent learner means developing the social skills that enables one to work well whether he is on his own or is working with others. One way to develop this while earning one’s high school diploma online is to work with online study groups and online forums, where the student can work collaboratively with his online classmates in order to understand a subject matter better.
    What you can do: Avoid the temptation of hovering or micro-managing your child’s “school day”. Encourage him to participate in online discussions with virtual schoolmates and teachers.
  • Cognitive skills. These are thinking skills, such as being able to identify the purpose or goal, telling the difference between assumptions, opinions and facts and sifting through available information to help solve a problem. It also involves the ability to classify objects using a certain criteria and to articulate the how and why of a specified concept.
    What you can do: Help your child to ask Why and How questions about a lesson, focusing not just on learning the facts. Recognize that your child has his own areas of strengths and weakness in his virtual school studies. You need to provide guidance and support for subjects he is struggling with.
  • Emotional skills. Independent learners have learned to motivate themselves, to prioritize between “what I want now” and “what gives the best outcome”. A child needs to learn the art of delayed gratification (foregoing the things he wants to do i.e. watching TV, going on Facebook) so that he can enjoy them later, when his lessons and projects are completed.
    What you can do: Motivate your child with praise and rewards linked to achieving long term goals.
  • Personal discipline. Independent learners have developed discipline so that they are able to manage their time and resources wisely in order for them to achieve the goals they have personally set for themselves. This means that an independent learner has learned to manage any distractions and obstacles that come his way so that he can be able to finish the tasks at hand.
    What you can do: Sit down with your child to help set up systems that can boost his sense of discipline. This can be related to knowing about deadlines and scheduling his activities in order to meet these. This can be mean building an environment that is conducive to learning and is free from distractions. Recognize his growth in the area of personal discipline. The ability to focus on a goal and see it through its completion is a reward in itself as it gives your child a sense of accomplishment but your child will also appreciate that you see his progress.

When your child grows and develops into an independent learner, you can enjoy the advantage of more free time – you don’t have to supervise him as closely. He also grows in confidence and determination; qualities that will help him succeed in college. You will also have a student that is actively engaged in his lessons, where the passion and joy of learning are what drives him.