Parents and teachers want to help children develop a lifelong love of learning. However, over-involvement can have an opposite effect; a recent large-scale study has found that after middle school, parent involvement such as excessive homework help, meetings with teachers, or negative consequences for poor performance can do more harm than good. It could bring down test scores and increase anxiety in the student about school.
To help your child be successful without being overly involved, it’s important to encourage them to be an independent learner. Independent learners are children that can take initiative in their own learning. The following strategies can help parents encourage their children to be independent learners without going about it the wrong way!
1. Believe in your child
2. Children want to know that their parents have faith in their skills and abilities; this helps increase their confidence and gives them the strength and perseverance to work through their own challenges. Instead of leading your child through their academics, act like a cheerleader on the sidelines. This level of involvement helps your child know you are interested and encouraging – without leaving them feeling dependent on your assistance.
3. Ask how you can help
4. Involve your child in conversations about their education! Instead of creating a study plan for them, ask how you can help them prepare for an upcoming test. Doing this allows parents to act as sounding board rather than as another teacher.
6. Encourage effort
7. Many parents are guilty of praising their children’s results, such as offering cash for straight A’s. However, it’s important to also praise effort, progress, and improvement. This is especially important for children struggling academically; encouraging the action they take towards success rather than the result itself increases the likelihood of the action being repeated.
8. Give kids opportunities for independence
9. Even small children can be given opportunities to take initiative and be independent. Picking out their own clothes, watering household plants, setting the table, or feeding a pet are all activities that young children can learn to do on their own. As they grow, give children more responsibilities around the house; these low-stakes tasks help build confidence and foster a sense of independence and self-reliance that may extend until adulthood.