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Teenagers & Learning Independently Through Organisation and Prioritising

It’s a fact that not all high school students are independent learners. They are unable to set goals or monitor and evaluate their own academic development.

The good news is students who depend on a lot of instruction can begin growing independent learning traits no matter their age. Encouraging your teenager to grow their independency and organisational skills can foster self-reliance and responsibility, both now in school and later in a career.

What Is Independent Learning?

“The ability to take charge of one’s learning.”  Holec (1981:3)

Being able to make informed choices and taking responsibility for your own learning activities are two facets of learning independently. Two other important elements, vital for the success of learning independently, are motivation and feeling confident enough to take decisions and act on them. You also need to appreciate the value of reflecting on your learning and deciding whether it has been effective or whether you need to try another approach.

Download our “Time Management: Teaching your teen Time Management skills” document that includes tips and ideas to help improve your teens time management

What Are the Benefits of Independent Learning For Your Teen?

  • Improved academic performance
  • Increased motivation and confidence
  • Increased chances to be creative and intellectually creative
  • Fostered social inclusion and countered alienation from peers
  • Increased opportunities for completing differentiated tasks, set by the teacher

Working Independently Through Organisation and Prioritising

Organisation is the ability to be systematic and efficient. Organisational skills involve utilising time, energy, and resources in an effective way so that you achieve the things you want or need to achieve. Frequently we learn through trial and error. These are skills which people generally acquire over time through trial and error.

Some teenagers with have difficulty organising their thoughts, personal belongings and school resources as many students have difficulties with Executive Function and therefore may need to be taught organisational strategies.

The more organisational skills are practised, the greater the likelihood your teenager will succeed in their educational, vocational, and personal pursuits.

Download our “Time Management: Teaching your teen Time Management skills” document that includes tips and ideas to help improve your teens time management

Here Are Some Strategies That May Help Improve Your Teens Organisational Skills

  • Visual supports e.g. pictures, written lists, first and then, calendars, colour coded timetables, visual reminders or alarms on smart phones and real objects – can all be good ways of helping your teenager to understand what is going to happen and when.
  • Visual and physical clutter in the environment and around work areas should be kept to a minimum to enable your teenager to find items and to organise resources.  This can include defining areas where the teenager should work and clarifying what needs to be done, so that activities have an inherent start and finish.
  • Colour coding can be used to indicate the importance or significance of tasks (and therefore help to prioritise tasks and work through them in a logical sequence), e.g. work in a red tray or file could be urgent, work in a green tray or file could be pending, while work in a blue tray or file is not important or has no timescale attached to it.
  • Dictaphones or smart phones with voice recognition/recording can be a useful auditory reminder of tasks, work, events or deadlines, and may be used by your teenager instead of taking written notes.
  • Mobile phones, computers and tablets can be used to store important information, or to act as a reminder. Computer calendars can have important dates stored on them, or reminders about homework assignments. Alarms can be set to come on at a particular time as a reminder to do something, e.g. to go out to a social event.

As the parent of a teenager, your role is to assist your teen and oversee their progress, along with developing these important independent learning traits.

Independent learning can become a lifelong habit.

Here for You and Your Family

If your child has trouble organising their schoolwork, struggles to start their homework on their own, or doesn’t know how to work independently, they may have executive function issues. But don’t worry – we can help! Our FOCUS Assessment will provide you with the answers and give you peace of mind.

Click here to discover more about our FOCUS Assessment.

At Biolink Attention Training, we want nothing more than to see your child be successful, just as much as you do. If you feel that you need some help in guiding your son or daughter with their academics or address a cognitive issue that’s affecting their school life, then contact us today or find a center near you.

Lizaan Spangenberg
Biolink Attention Training Head Office