What Is Independent Learning & Why Is It Important For Your Child?
Take charge, explore, and ask questions. Become an independent learner with Friends' Central School.
By Alexa Quinn ’98, Middle School Principal
An independent learner feels empowered to take charge of their own learning, explore their interests, and ask meaningful questions. Not only is this important for children throughout their educational journey, but it’s also a key life skill that will set them up for success in adulthood.
As kids get older, it’s only natural that they’ll need to become more independent. As your child progresses through lower school, middle school, high school, college, and beyond, they’ll be increasingly expected to take charge of their own learning and manage their responsibilities.
Actively making the effort to encourage independent learning from a young age is like removing the training wheels from a bike. For caregivers, it’s important to know the right way to take the training wheels off while still providing adequate support when needed.
Below are some strategies parents and families can use to encourage independent learning.
Create structure and routine
One of the simplest ways to encourage independent learning is to establish structure and routine for your child. When it comes to completing school work, having a firm routine in place will help them build strong habits related to their studies.
Model curiosity & continuous learning
Modeling a sense of curiosity and a love of learning helps demonstrate what independent learning looks like in daily life and outside of the classroom. To model this behavior, demonstrate and talk about the ways that you continue your journey as a learner – whether in your work, relationships, or hobbies.
Children are inherently curious, and our job as caregivers and educators is to encourage them to ask meaningful questions that will help them better understand the world around them.
In addition to modeling curiosity and problem solving, it’s also a great idea to provide your child with new learning opportunities whenever possible. For example, if your child shows interest in a particular topic, consider providing them with opportunities for them to explore their curiosity further.
Provide guidance, not answers
Just as it’s important to encourage thoughtful questions, it’s also important that you’re mindful of how those questions are being answered. A key component of encouraging independent learning is not only empowering your child to ask big questions but also allowing them to explore ways of answering those questions themselves.
Provide the necessary support by reminding your child what resources are available to them and how they might go about using their resources. Similarly, ask your child what they already know about a particular topic or question in order to help guide them to new information.
Expect and support your child through setbacks
Independent learners make mistakes, try again and iterate as they go. The way that we, as adults, react to our children’s setbacks or mistakes gives them powerful and lasting messages. In order to provide a message of perseverance and resilience, greet your child’s mistakes and setbacks as inevitable parts of learning and being human. Verbalize for your child that they can learn from these situations and manage them independently, rather than swooping in to solve the problem or as though there is an emergency. Aim to guide their thought process so that they can discover a solution through their own reasoning and exploration.
Independent Learning at FCS
Independent learners are nurtured at home and in the classroom. Choosing a school that recognizes the importance of academic agency and encourages students to explore their interests is another great way to ensure that your child feels empowered to reach their full potential.
At Friends’ Central School, they recognize the value of independent learning in their students and strive to provide opportunities for children to take charge of their education. Many of the strategies discussed above are continuously enacted by their educators to promote independent learning in the classroom while also providing students with the guidance and resources they need to be successful. FCS students become self advocates and feel empowered to explore their curiosity in meaningful ways in school and beyond.
At FCS, “We Go Further”
Learn more at one of our Admissions events, including tours tailored to your child’s interests.
Lower School Admissions Events:
Nursery – Grade 5 | 228 Old Gulph Road, Wynnewood
- Spring Open House on April 6 at 9:30 am
- Personal tours are available upon request
Middle & Upper School Admissions Events:
Grade 6 – 12 | 1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood
- Spring Open House on April 19 at 9:00 am
- Personal tours are available upon request
FCS Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series 2021-2022:
Free and open to the public, but registration is required.
- Distinguished Visiting Scientist Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd on March 15 at 7 pm (Virtual)
- Distinguished Visiting Humanities Speaker Jon Grinspan ’02 on April 14 at 7 pm (Virtual)