Developing Independent Learners

(Talk given by Janet Gilbert, the Director and Founder of the Potters Online School, summarized by James S)

We need to prepare and teach our children to be lifelong learners, developing a love for learning independently. The basis for lifelong learning is teach-ability, which is determined by:

  1. Respect for Authority of teachers, parents, and others. Children who learn to respect authority value what they are taught and are teachable.  They should respect authority based on God-given position, not self-determined worthiness. God commands children to respect authority. Though it does not need to be earned, authorities should strive to be good examples.
  2. Humility is another key to being teachable. If a child thinks he knows it all, he will have a hard time expanding his knowledge.

Our kids should learn a progression of labor from Chores to School, School to Work, and Work to Calling. Chores should start early in childhood, learning to be responsible for completing tasks in an excellent manner leads to good schooling habits. Those who learn to do well in school usually become good workers and those who are good workers are often faithful in their God-given calling. Character is forged in the crucible of labor! In former days many families had farms, and responsibilities were divided among the whole family out of necessity. This helped develop character and work ethic in a way that is often missing today. This part of education is vital to development.

We should teach and expect excellence in schooling…by teaching our children to glorify God in their studies and to think of their schooling as laboring for the Lord.

We should seek to develop in our children an attitude of diligence, persistence, self-control, and initiative. These attitudes will help them to be faithful in all walks of life.

Grade school should mostly be about preparation for lifelong learning and getting the skill sets needed for future learning (i.e.–a good foundation in reading and mathematics). Kids need to learn respect and self-control before they finish grade school, or they will struggle in upper grades (7-12th).  Character development is foundational and challenges are necessary. “Easy” school will not develop character and the needed skills for lifelong learning. Remember: prayer changes heart attitudes!

By High school, children need to learn to plan their own school schedules. If they don’t learn to do this, they will not be ready for college. What are our end goals in schooling? What will it take to prepare them for college, work and life on their own?  Do they know how to do all the things to run a household? Do they know how to do banking, balance a checkbook, manage a credit card?  Do they know how to pay utilities, care for a vehicle?  Do they know about insurance, laws, taxes, etc? Do they know how to interact with police in the US versus Central Asia? Think about everything your children will need to do when they are on their own–work that into your education plan. It is too late if you wait until the summer before they start college. We can not teach them everything, so teach them good sources to find the information they need.

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