The Importance of Structured and Independent Learning
A long December holiday usually means relaxation from routine and structure for many families. And since most children don’t do any structured work during these holidays, they “forget” how to work independently. Unfortunately, the holiday is coming to an end and the start of the new school year is right around the corner, so it is important for your child to once again focus on structure, routines, and independent learning.
Why Is Structure and Routine So Important?
Cognitive Development: One of the most significant outcomes of healthy structure and routines for children is enhanced cognitive development. Cognitive skills are the core skills the brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. A consistent bedtime and enough hours of sleep each night are very important for healthy brain development.
Independence: Routines can also help children become more independent. Children need a sense of direction to function. Children like to know what is going to happen and when because it makes them feel like they have some sense of control. The sense of what to expect in daily routine helps foster this independence. (we talk about independence in more detail later on)
Coping Skills: Children also learn healthy coping skills through structure and routine. Children feel secure and comfortable when they have routine which allows them to cope more effectively when something stressful is occurring as they still have consistency in their day to day routines.
Success: Finally, routines are the basis of success. Time management is a skill that is learned through a consistent routine. Children that have daily chores understand what it means to be responsible. Structure also aids children in establishing important healthy habits such as brushing their teeth and waking up on schedule.
What Are Some Ways That Consistent Routines and Structure Can Be Developed in The Home?
Morning: Set a consistent time to get up. Remember that children need 9-10 hours of sleep each night to be at their best.
After School: Allow time for a nutritious after-school snack, a short play break and then a set amount of time to complete homework. You can also create daily chores that are age appropriate for your child such as setting the table, feeding pets, and cleaning their bedroom.
Bedtime: Have your child get in the routine of taking a bath/shower, setting out their clothes for the next day, and having a set bedtime.
Listen to The Family Table podcast to learn more ways to prepare for the upcoming school year! Listen to Episode 5 to hear the experts talk about what makes them anxious and excited as they approach the first day of school.
Why Is It Important for Your Child to Become an Independent Learner?
There are many advantages of encouraging your child to become independent learners:
- Increased recognition of strengths, weaknesses, and progress
- Higher levels of confidence
- More motivation
- Better management of learning
- Improved performance
- Enhanced self-esteem
- Teaches self-discipline
These benefits will be beneficial for your child at school, university and even in their day-to-day lives.
What Are Some Things You Can Do to Help Your Child Become A More Independent Learner?
- Independent task list. Knowing your child’s ability level can help you identify which tasks they are able to do on their own and which tasks they still need your support to do. Create a list with two columns naming tasks that your child is capable of doing on their own and tasks you need to help them with. It can also be helpful to brainstorm this list with your child so they feel some ownership over the things they can do alone. Post this list somewhere you and your child will see every day. As your child learns how to do things on their own, you can move tasks from the second column to the first column. This way your child can see their progress as they master new skills!
- Think like Goldilocks. In a children’s story, a little girl named Goldilocks tastes three bowls of food. One is “too hot”, one is “too cold”, and one is “just right”. For children to learn how to do things by themselves, they need tasks that they are able to work on alone. That means the task shouldn’t be too easy or too hard. Try to identify tasks that are “just right” for your child to do on their own. Columns can include: Too Easy, Too Hard, and Just Right.
- Make time. To help your child learn to do things on their own, it is important to build extra time for them into daily routines. For example, if you help them get dressed in the morning, that may only take 5 minutes. If they get dressed themselves, it may take 15 minutes. If you are rushing to get out the door, you may be tempted to do the task for your child, instead of letting them do it on their own. Think about your schedule and places where you can build in extra time to let your child try to do things on their own.
Helping your child become more structured in their studies and to be more independent has so many benefits. But it all comes down to improved school results. That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? If your child struggles with routine and structure now, they will have a really difficult time as their schoolwork increases and the subjects become more difficult.
Teaching your child to become more independent (to complete assignments on their own, to try that difficult math sum on their own before asking for your help) will have long lasting effects on their academic performance.
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.
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.
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