How To Encourage Your Homeschool Children To Work Independently

Teaching children how to work independently may be the most important skill you ever teach.

Encourage Your Homeschool Child to Work Independently

I had been a struggling with how to get everything done. I wanted to spend time with the girls, educate them, visit with friends, take care of the house, and pursue my own passions.

I just didn’t have time to get it all done. I needed a plan. Most homeschool moms can relate to this feeling. There just are not enough hours in the day.

Implementing A Work Day

After much thought, I decided it was time to institute a “work day.” The girls were old enough (nine and twelve) to take care of themselves and get their school work done. This ended up being a blessing in disguise for our family. Not only did I gain dedicated time to work uninterrupted on a project, but they also gained valuable life skills by learning to work independently.

This didn’t happen overnight though. It was a process that occurred over several years as we trained the girls to work diligently. Here’s the process we used to turn over responsibility to our children and encouraged them to work independently.

Encouraging Your Children To Work Independently

Start by Working Alongside Them

When you first begin to transfer responsibility to your child, you will need to work alongside them. Teach them what to do and how to do it. One of the easiest ways we found to do this is to work from a list.

Sometimes I write out what needs to be done on a whiteboard such as what we need to accomplish before we can leave for the movies.

Other times we use a template that can be printed whenever we need it such as a packing list for a trip. Each week we use a notebook with their school assignments and chores listed by day.

Regardless of the type of list you use, teach your children to stay focused on the task at hand. It may be helpful to set a timer for 10-30 minutes and encourage them to try to finish the task before the timer goes off. When the timer is finished, they can take a brain break before starting to work on the next task.

When my daughters were first learning to work from a list, I had them check-in with me after each task to make sure they were staying focused.

Turn Over Responsibility a Little at a Time

Once I was confident my girls could work diligently from the list and would use the timers to stay focused, I assigned independent work during a portion of the day.

We worked on family lessons first and then split up to work on individual lessons. I still had them check-in after every couple of tasks to make sure they were staying focused and to answer any questions they had.

Turn Over Responsibility But Provide Quality Control Checks

Then came the day I told them I was instituting a work day each week and I expected them to work independently. I also expected my older daughter to help my younger daughter when she needed it.

We still have check-ins since this encourages timeliness and provides accountability. When I finish a task and am taking a break (at least every hour), I check in with each girl to make sure she is making reasonable progress towards accomplishing her lessons and chores for the day.

Steps to Working Independently

Are you ready to turn over some responsibilities to your children? Be patient as you turn over one responsibility at a time. If you are a little unsure what your first steps should be, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Turn over responsibility for meal prep.
  • Present your children with a responsibilities and privileges list.
  • Set high expectations.
  • Allow your children to start making decisions about their money. You might even consider allowing your children to take responsibility for more of their large purchases.
  • Teach your children to do their own laundry.
  • Put an older child in charge of a younger sibling’s lesson.


About the author

Crystal Wagner believes learning is not confined to a book or “school hours,” but is a lifestyle that positively impacts generations. She helps homeschool parents learn practical ways to simplify homeschool planning, make learning fun, and disciple their children.

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