5 Essential Habits for Lifelong Learning

Learning is essential to survival and growth. It is a lifelong process that should never end. Want to be a successful lifelong learner? Check out these five essential habits!

Education champion, Charlotte Mason, taught that a good education was built on good habits.  This method works for anything you are trying to accomplish. If you want to succeed, begin by working on your habits.

Woman studying to be a lifelong learner

Essential Habits for Learning

Set a Goal

Every journey begins with a single step, but before that step there is the goal. Imagine embarking on a voyage of a lifetime but not knowing where you were going. How would you plan your transportation? What would you pack?  Education is an adventure, start out with a goal in mind!

Make the goal personal. What do YOU want to learn?  There are plenty of topics that needs to be learned or should be studied. However, if you want to stick with it, having a goal centered on what you want to learn will motivate you day after day.

Make a Schedule

Life is busy. It seems to get busier everyday. Without a schedule your independent study will not happen. Just as a goal is essential, setting aside time each day or each week for personal learning is absolutely important.

Pick a time that is dedicated to learning. If you are in between topics, use this time to read and explore.  Think of skills you admire. No matter what, invest your set time in yourself by learning something new, no matter how small. Making time to learn will pay dividends in your educational journey.

Keep Records

Be it a journal, checklist, or notebook recording your learning activities and accomplishments prompts you to learn more.  Keeping records also allows you to see how close you are to meeting a goal, as well as, how many goals you have reached.

Record keeping should not be overwhelming. Do what works for you and what is easy to complete. Some people like to journal, for others a daily journal is torture.  Don’t let note taking get in the way of learning.

Find Like Minded Community

No man is an island.  To keep yourself motivated to learn, find those  who share your passion for education.  In the digital age, there are so many avenues to build community.

Facebook groups, Twitter chats, etc provide a virtual conversation on common topics.  Global Learn Day is a community of its own.  Participating in our social media outlets and our yearly celebration gives every learner a chance to belong.

Teach Someone Else

Teaching is the ultimate synthesis of education.  The old saying, “Those who can do and those who can’t teach.” could not be further from the truth. While is it possible to teach skills that you cannot physically accomplish, being able to teach anything demonstrates a mastery of the subject.

If you need motivation to learn something new, promise to teach a class to someone else.  Teaching also lends itself to wanting to know more. Students’ questions and reflections can lead to new journeys of learning.

Teaching does not have to involve being in a classroom, though. Hold a skill day at your home or local library. Write a blog or e-book.  Create an online course for platforms like Udemy, Teachable, or OLT! Inspire others through your passion to never stop learning.

Have any habits to add?  What are you learning about today?

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The Skills Gap and Real Education

There is a debate going on that is not easily settled. Does the skills gap exist? If it does, why? How do we close it?

Opponents blame the recession for high unemployment rates and say there is no skills gap, just no jobs. On the other hand, analysts, journalists, business executives, and employment specialists say the gap is real and it is growing.  Which side is correct?

 

The Gap or Not The Gap, That’s Not The Question

Regardless of the actual gap, the answer to all of the questions is education.  Real education, not just the years spent in a school.  Education is a bridge to a brighter future for everyone.  It should not be limited to check lists and basic requirements.  Wherever you are on the learning continuum, there is always more to learn.

This is why at Global Learn Day, we emphasize and promote lifelong learning and endless, self education.  How can these principles solve the skills gap? Let’s explore three reasons.

Adult Education and Essential Skills

Basic skills like reading, writing, and computation are foundational to the educational process.  Yet, millions of prospective employees lack these cornerstone, building blocks.  In the United States alone, 36 million adults of working age are not proficient in language usage, fluent reading, and everyday math.

Without these skills, not only will the search for employment be difficult, but acquiring new skills is nearly impossible. A base of knowledge must be laid in order to build a lifetime of learning.  This is a skills gap that plagues every corner of the world.  In countries with mandatory, universal education, it should be a wake up call that our methods must change in order to reach and teach every student.

Adult education does not address the cause of this gap, but effectively treats the symptoms of it.  Investing in adult education creates a ripple effect that allows for better opportunities for the adult learner, as well as greater hope for future generations. Low income children who have at least one parent who has earned a G.E.D, are more likely to finish high school themselves.

Education begets education. Learning inspires more learning. By building up one segment of the population that is underserved and underskilled, the entire society is boosted and inspired to work harder.  So, providing adult education to close the basic skills gap will help ensure that gap continues to lessen in the future generations.

Continuing Education in Corporate Culture

Gone are the days of learning a finite skills set, earning a degree or diploma, and finding a lifelong career in one organization. The information age has ushered in a wave of advancing technology that continues to evolve and develop. What was top last year or even last month has now been replaced by a new software or operating system.

Basic education and higher education are still so vitally important, but in order for workers and employers to compete in this brave new world, continuing education must be a central tenet of how they do business.

Corporate learning retreat, incentives for continuing education classes, and encouragement for passive learning among employees are the hallmarks of what will not only close the skills gap in growing fields but also keep companies afloat in these volatile economic waters.

Continuing education is not just a buzz word, nor a race to a higher salary, for every employee it must be a way of life.

The Ben Franklin Way–Self Education

In locations where education is mandatory and universal, there is a tendency to equate education with school. However, these are two very different concepts.  Schools may be where you get educated, however an education is not exclusive to school.

Like the rest of the world, schools are struggling to keep up with the pace of the digital age.  Even the best schools are not adequate in providing all of the skills a person would need by the time he enters the workforce or looks to advance his career. This is because the skills that will be needed at that time are for platforms that do not exist today.

The push to include subjects like coding in school is part of a movement to prepare students for a future that we cannot even imagine right now. However, even these efforts will not insulate the next generation from a skills gap of their own.

Self education is the answer to the skills crisis. It has always been the answer. No matter what education you are lacking, individual study and pursuit of knowledge is what propels the motivated forward.

Like our patron, Benjamin Franklin, Global Learn Day recognizes and celebrates the on going efforts of self education.  In an age where skills are demanded but not being formally taught, adopting a habit of independent study apart for certificates, degrees, or pay incentives to be earned will provide much greater opportunity than any corporate education structure or formal education.

The skill to self educate is the the greatest skill to acquire. Those able to stay ahead of the curve, learn new technologies, and be flexible in how common procedures are done will be the ones to achieve and succeed.

How will you close your own skills gap today?

For more information on where to continue your own education, check out these posts:
Education: The Gift You Give Yourself
The Fun of Self Education
When Should Education End?
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Education: The Gift You Give Yourself

The season of gift giving is upon us. So much excitement and planning. Everyone is looking forward to time with family and friends, as well as surprise treats.  Do you have a list of gifts to get?  Are you on your list? That’s right, you!  Give yourself a gift that lasts forever–an education

No matter how much or how little education you have received to this point, there is always more to learn. Every bit of education is a personal treasure that pays dividends throughout your life.

B.B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is no one can take it away from you.” Other gifts can be used up, broken, lost, or stolen, but knowledge is yours always.

Finding Education Gifts:

There are plenty of gift guides out on the Internet, even ones touting the virtues of educational toys, however this list is different because it is not just for children, it is for everyone.

Education can be expensive, as we all know, but it doesn’t have to be. With the advent of the World Wide Web, affordable and no-cost learning opportunities expand every day.

Here is a list of some online resources where you can self-educate:

  • Udemy: an online learning platform with classes in everything from design to test prep. It’s a great place to start–especially when they are having a sale!
  • Alison: Similar to Udemy, Alison also has a vast assortment of FREE courses!
  • Khan Academy: Known best for homework help in math–Khan is not just for kids! Khan covers topics from humanities and economics to physics and personal finance.
  • Coursera: Offering access to courses from top universities that can lead to a degree, Coursera is free to join and easy to use!
  • Academic Earth: Academic Earth offers free college classes from the best universities around the world. Don’t let location stop you!
  • OLT: The sponsor of Global Learn Day offers adult education, continuing education, and self help courses.
  • Youtube #Education: A collection of educational videos sorted by subject, this is easy learning whenever you want it.
  • Justin Guitar: Ever wanted to learn to play the guitar? It’s never too late to start. Begin free classes at this fun site!
  • Drawspace: Opens the world of drawing to any student with free classes and e-books, you can stretch your creative legs and learn something new!

The internet is so vast, the possibilities to learn are almost limitless. Learning something new not only adds some sugar and spice to your life but helps keep your brain healthy and your skills sharp. So while you are out in the hustle and bustle of the season, checking your list twice, remember to give yourself this year, too.

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Exercise: It Does a Body and Brain Good!

What gets your heart pumping?  A sprint in the early morning dew? The latest thriller from your favorite author? Tackling an impossible puzzle?  Turns out getting your heart pumping can also build your brain!

So move over couch potato book worm, if you really want to build your intellect, start building you muscles!

Exercising Your Brain

Like your muscles, your brain needs to be stretched to stay in top form and to grow.  Reading, learning something new, practicing a skill, and playing intellectual games all help to stimulate your brain and make new connections.

Neuron pathways and synapse connections are how your brain builds and stays elastic. Keeping it healthy and strong.

The Workout Brain Connection

Your brain does not just need intellectual stimulation, it also thrives on physical activity. Our brains are ever growing and changing. Exercise induces the most critical part of this process, neurogenesis or the creation of neuron stem cells.

Guess what? Neurons do grow back — by the thousands — through a process called neurogenesis. They divide and propagate like cells in the rest of the body. Neurons are born as blank-slate stem cells, and they go through a developmental process in which they need to find something to do in order to survive. Most of them don’t. It takes about 28 days for a fledgling cell to plug into a network. If we don’t use the newborn neurons, we lose them. Exercise spawns neurons, and the environmental enrichment helps those cells survive. (source)

In addition to the creation of neuron stem cells, physical exercise increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, aiding brain function.  Along with oxygen, hormone levels that govern various facets of brain development increase, while stress hormones decrease.  Both facilitating brain growth and positive emotional development.

That’s not all! The exercise brain connection also fuels corrective processes that actually heal the brain.  All of this is good news, it means our brains do not have to simply wither as we age, and brain damage has hope of repair through mental exercises and physical therapy.

What Exercises Are Best?

Ready to exercise your way to a healthier, smarter you?  You may be wondering which exercises are best.  Basically, if it is good for your heart, it will also be good for your brain.

Aerobic exercises, especially because of the increased oxygen in take, are a great place to start. These are easy to do and usually require no special equipment. Walking, running, swimming, and biking are examples of common aerobic exercises.

Kick your brain workout up a notch by choosing exercises that cross the mid-line of your body.  Cross lateral activity gets both sides of the brain communicating, stimulating greater growth and stronger connections. These exercises can be as simple as touching your left hand to your right toe.  A series of cross lateral stretches in the morning will have your brain awake and ready to learn something new.

 

Never Stop Growing, Just Keep Learning

At Global Learn Day, we celebrate the gift of learning at all ages, and promote life long learning as a foundational habit for everyone. As One Planet, One People lets support each others’ brain quest by providing encouragement and resources to keep our bodies and minds fit!

How will you exercise your brain today?

To learn more, please check out:
https://blog.brainbalance.com/blog/2016/06/crossing-midline-learning-differences
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201102/get-out-and-walk-your-brain-will-thank-you
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18286387

 

 

 

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New Years Resolution Goals

Ring in the New Year by the Ringing of the School Bell

Resolve to Learn

The year is rapidly coming to a close, with it a flurry of activity and holidays are being celebrated worldwide.  This is a time of excitement and joy. It is also a time for introspection and goal setting.

Come December 31st, millions and millions will create resolutions with the intent of improving themselves and their lives in the coming new year.  Among the top resolutions are losing weight, exercising, quitting bad habits, and finding a job.

What if this year, you resolve to learn something new?  Learning exercises your brain, creates balance in your life, leads to better decision making capabilities, and could help you land that job or improve your chances of promotion at your current employment.

Surfing the Web to Learn

Continuing education is more readily available than ever, delivered directly to your laptop, tablet, or phone. Here are some resources to jump start your lifelong learning habit.

Udemy Like shopping on Black Friday for all the deals? Then this learning platform is for you!  Forget the latest craze, sign up for a class! Udemy has a Black Friday special going on right now with courses costing only $10!!  There is so much to learn, and with this deal, you could chose to learn more for less.

SkillshareSkillshare offers short courses on specific skill sets from photography to e-commerce, this website has opportunity to grow in your career and hobbies. The lack of long term commitment for classes makes this an ideal place to start.

Open Course WareVirtually every major university offers open courses online for the public to take at will.  These courses are free and are the same courses offered at the university itself. While you cannot earn a degree through these courses, you will still learn from top notch professors. In addition, you could test drive a program or major.  Lastly, you can use the courses to prep yourself for CLEP examination which can earn you college credit.

KHAN AcademyFree video based courses for kindergarten through adult education. KHAN Academy covers diverse subjects with an intense focus on science, math, and computer programming.

YoutubeAside from the funny videos and viral pranks, Youtube offers an immense amount of knowledge for free.  There are videos on every subject and many skills to be learned in a “one-on-one” setting.  Decide what you would like to know how to do in the new year and find an appropriate Youtube channel. You may have to dig around to find the presenter who works best for you, but don’t worry there are 300,000 new videos loaded every day!

Looking for more online opportunities?  Check out this list of 20 Places to Educate Yourself For Free! You are sure to find something to tickle your fancy and expand your mind!

Offline Learning

Online learning, elearning, and virtual coursework are all the rage right now. The Internet does surely provide unsurpassed access to information and is a flexible tool allowing educational opportunities to reach where traditional schools never could. However, online classes are not the only means of continuing education in the 21st century.

If online classes just aren’t your thing or your bandwidth doesn’t accommodate videos, learn the old fashioned way-through books and other people. Books are still just as valuable as they were pre-Internet days.  Find a good book on whatever you are yearning to master. Don’t have a skill you need to learn? How about you just read some good classic literature?  Your brain will get pumping and you will surely expand your vocabulary. All around, a worth while endeavor!

In addition to amazing books, see what learning opportunities exist in your area. Is there a club offering demonstrations? Could you sit in on a course offered at your local trade school or college to learn more about the study program?  Libraries offer a vast array of programs, course, and groups that can enrich your lifelong pursuit of knowledge, oh and they also have books–many, many books!

How will you resolve to learn this coming year?

 

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When Should Education End?

Education Road Maps

There are many theories and much debate about when education should begin.  On one side there is a push for earlier and earlier learning, formal studies beginning in the toddler years.  On the other, there are proponents of delayed study beginning at age seven or later.  In all of this back and forth, the question of when education ends is not addressed.

At the start of formal schooling, children are presented with a road map of how to make it to the end of their school career with several exit points and choices along the way.  Make it through high school and then choose a trade school or college to attend. Have you earned your bachelors degree? Well you could continue to a masters or doctorate, or jump into your career.

What Is Required of Me?

Much of this plan is based on checklists and diplomas. Do this and get that. Is that the goal of education, though?

Education is the passing on and accumulation of skills and knowledge.  While learning is often a means to an end, it has value beyond getting a career or earning degrees.

An Education of Your Dreams

If you could learn anything what would it be?  Is there something you have always wanted to try?  Maybe you dream of being able to play the guitar. Or have you always wanted to speak Russian?  Is there a craft you admire and wish you knew how to make? How about a home improvement task that you wish you didn’t have to hire someone to do?

Education is learning, not school. It is a lifelong process to shape your abilities, interests, and understanding of the world.  While formal education is a linear process to a pre-determined goal, true education is integral to the life process.

When Is It Too Late?

The saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has derailed many an aspiring learner.  It is never too late to learn. Never too late to complete a learning task, and surely never too late to begin. Learning may take longer and be more difficult to fit into your daily life but that does not diminish its value, nor preclude it from happening at any age.

Today is the best day to begin your education.  Begin today and continue tomorrow.  Continue your education for career. Learn a new craft, skill, or trade.  Educate yourself about subject matters you do not understand. Study history. Investigate politics and world news.  Pick up a work of literature you have never read.  Whatever you choose, there is no wrong choice in furthering your education. Anything that you learn becomes a new jewel to line your pockets.

The Real Worth of Education

Not all education will earn you higher wages, but every bit of learning will make you richer in life, independence, and understanding.  Education is not a piece of paper to hang on your wall, it is a process to enrich your mind that provides resources that can never be taken from you.

When does education end?  The real answer is when you let it, because learning is a gift you give to yourself each day.  Change the world–learn something new today!

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How to Learn Better

Writing is the Original Hands-on Learning

Before we had ipads, smartboards, apps, and AI, there were blackboards, slates, paper, and pen.  The bland nature of this black and white system seems like it has little to offer in our modern world.  Flashy programs and the latest tech promise brain development, lessons mastered, and ingenuity instilled.  Want to learn deeply, thoughtfully, and more concretely, though,  pick up a pen!

Writing uses parts of  your brain that require  more insight and analysis than high tech recording methods do.  Turns out all that old fashioned copywork is actually cutting edge.

How Does Writing Help?

Have you ever found yourself in a lecture or at a conference and there was just so much good information being presented you wished you could just take down every word so you could remember?  Turns out recording every word leads to less learning, not more.  Writing is a slow process.  Our modern sensibilities that prize speed prefer digital recording of notes for just this reason.  Faster is better…or is it?

Slowing down to write engages more parts of your brain.  It requires you to analyze, evaluate, and question what you are hearing.  Typing records every word, but does not engage the higher level thinking portions of your mind. While you are writing your brain is learning not simply remembering.

Writing to Read and Speak

The teaching of handwriting has fallen by the wayside in recent years, the reasoning being that with more efficient means of taking notes and completing assignments, more time can be devoted to getting children ready for the 21st century of innovation.  However, not learning handwriting is depriving children of vital, critical thinking skills that are even more important in our modern, complex world.

French psycologist, Stanilas Dehaene, observes,

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” he said. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain, it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize.”

The result?

“Learning is made easier,” he concluded. (source)

Building Bridges Built on Writing

In our global economy. with the planet shrinking at our fingertips, speaking a second or even fourth language is a major advantage.  There has been a great deal of emphasis placed on speaking a language first and foremost. Conversational ability has pushed the academic view of language study aside.

However, one of the greatest ways to develop and understand a language is by writing. Writing increases retention of new vocabulary and fluency of use.  When writing an essay or longer assignment in the target language, the student is learning to converse by pulling together the necessary elements, creating a dialogue, writing it down, and then reading back what is writing.  This process builds the skills necessary for regular conversation and takes a studied language from textbook level to conversational in a way no other study method can.

By understanding and being able to effectively use a second language, bridges to future development and education will be built.  These bridges lead to a future of greater peace and inconnectedness of One Planet, One People.

Global Learn Day is coming tomorrow!! Be sure to have your pen and pad ready.

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Seasons of Learning

For everything there is a season, a time.

Many hear this and think of rites of passage or periods of life. Being a child, growing into adulthood, establishing one’s own family, watching your children leave home, retiring. Each of these are periods, seasons of life. They are unique with their own trials and more importantly, joys. I would suggest that education has the same cadence, though. With my little ones, I am constantly fluctuating between several seasons all at once.

Infancy

It is incredible how much a child can absorb in this season of her life! The brain develops more in this period than it will at any other “season of life”. Watch a baby or young child light up as they are exposed to some new event or activity. The wonder that is clearly visible is amazing to many.

As a mother and my infant’s primary educator, I work to share experiences with her. Providing stimulating toys (we enjoy many from FatBrain and Hape Products – which can be purchases from our partner – Baby Cotton Bottoms) is a fun way for us to play and her to learn. Letting her sit outside to feel and experience all of the wonder of nature is also important. Lastly, we read constantly. We like to use ASL as we read and incorporate our signs into the book. If she eats the book, it’s okay – we just call it “early literacy”.

Elementary Years

During these years a child learns so many facts. Facts about history, math facts, science information and the list goes on. Watching a child discover what he or she is interested in and will become passionate about, leaves me in awe. Dr. Terrence R. Redding’s research on “The First Moment of Lasting Excitement” suggests that a child in these years often experiecnes a spark. Some topic ignites a passion about learning that lasts a lifetime. These children are destined to become life long learners. For me, it was history – genealogy in particular.

My grandmother was ana mateur genealogist, studying our family tree. I would sit with her as she told me about the research she had done and the people she had found who we were related it. The caused me to crave information about many periods of time and many parts of the world. I sitll have a love of history and think about most world events from a historical context.

For my son, his spark was dinosaurs. He will spend hours pouring over encyclopedias, watching documentaries and moving through the Natural History Museum. It is nothing for him to recall the name of any number of dinosaurs and provides him with pride when he recognizes them! This excitement can last him through these years and onto the more difficult adolescent season of life.

Adolescent Years

At this point, a child has already established a love of learning hopefully. He or she may enjoy learning about any number of topics. As a parent, I already see where the excitement is as it directs my adolescent’s personal objectives.

Learning, experiencing and understanding knowledge is so important as an adolescent develops because it assists in learning about who she is as an individual. As One Planet, One People, we each have an idea of who we are as individuals and we come together on Earth, our One Planet. Education becomes a choice as an adolescent. Something that schools, at least in the US, begin to recognize as they put more responsibility on the individual and less on the parent. As a mother, my responsibility lies in helping my child learn how to handle this responsibility. Without guidance, many would flounder as managers of their work.

By the time my adolescent graduates high school and enters college, the rewards will be abundant. If I was successful, she will be able to manage her time and activities effectively. At this point, she will have transitioned into adulthood and my role will have become that of a bystander in many respects.

Just like that summer fades into fall, a parent’s role as educator changes too.

What role are you in with your children today? Have you Joined the Voyage? GlobalLearnDay 2017 is this weekend!

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Pinterest

Piquing Interest and Pinterest

Piquing Interest

Do you relish browsing the aisle of bookshops or libraries, discovering new books to read and picking up tidbits of information? Are you a lifelong learner, always pursuing a new adventure or skill?  Would you love to have the world of endless information at your fingertips? Pinterest may just be for you.

Pinterest, like much of the Internet, is a treasure trove of endless possibilities.  There are how to posts, videos, daily inspiration, self help advice, and more.  However, it is not just another encyclopedia online. Pinterest is also a personal organization system, allowing you to curate your finds and catalog new ideas.

 

Joining the Bandwagon

For these reasons and more, Global Learn Day has created a Pinterest account to share all our finds with our followers and allow you to learn something new today and everyday.  We currently have twenty boards teaming with resources.  These boards include Education Around the World, STEM, Literature, and Early Education.

 

Get Involved!

In addition, many of our boards, such as Lifelong Learning, are collaborative boards.  These group boards allow people of similar interests to connect. It also provides an opportunity for our followers to share their discoveries with the world. This means you can add to our boards!

 

Have you stumbled upon an amazing website for elearning?  Did you just see a post about scientific discovery that blew your mind? Did that last article you read make you think of Global Learn Day?  Now, you can share that with us and all of our fellow GLDers.

 

The following boards are collaborative and more will be added soon!

 

To become a contributor, simply comment on any pin on the respective board.  We will send you an invitation and welcome you into the Global Learn Day family of lovers of education.

 

Join us and come help build bridges as One Planet, One People journeying together in learning.

 

What would you like to see on our boards?  Have an idea? Comment below!

 

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The Joy of Self Directed Learning

The Fun of Self Education

Why Self Educate?

Everyone knows that continuing education is an important part of most careers today. However, it is also an important habit for life.  Continuing education does not need to be obligatory courses or seminars, it is simply the practice of lifelong learning.  Teaching children to be self educators is as simple as allowing them the freedom to self direct their study.  This is particularly ideal for homeschooling. It can be the difference between just getting the curriculum finished and falling in love with learning.

 

How Does This Fit into My Homeschool?

Self directed learning is not the same as unschooling, although it can be.  If you speak to any veteran homeschool educator, you will invariably hear that the main goal in homeschooling is to raise children who educate themselves.  While this still requires support and guidance from the parents, it does not entail the parent being in charge of every piece of information learned by the student.

 

This technique not only nurtures continued education but is enjoyable for the student. Do you have a favorite time period of history?  How about an animal that amazes you?  Have you ever wished you could do a particular skill or craft?  All of these and more can be accomplished through self education.  So push away the textbooks, clear some time in the schedule, and let your children explore their learning passions.

 

How Do I Promote Self Directed Learning?

There are many ways this can be accomplished.  The easiest is to schedule time where your children explore their interests in depth.  Doing so can include reading, watching how-to videos, taking field trips, experimenting, doing hands on activities, or listening to podcasts.  This time is an active learning period but is also passive as there are no checklists or assignments required to be completed.  Don’t have time every day? Not a problem.  Find time once a week or even once a month if need be, the down time will refresh their enthusiasm and fuel their imagination.

 

To truly embrace the gift of self directed education, have your child make curriculum decisions with you.  Perhaps allow him to choose his history study.  Together design an elective class. Your child could even choose the theme of her studies for the year.  The possibilities are endless.  One of the great beauties of homeschooling is the flexibility and freedom that comes with this style of education.  No one is bound by a simple course manual, or rigid schedule. Schedules and curriculum plans are important but not the hallmarks of homeschools.

 

If the thought of designing a course is overwhelming or you don’t know where to begin, there are also journals like Thinking Tree books that provide a guided approach to self education. Each journal has a theme and the student follows the guidelines of the journal, choosing his own books to study. These can be used as a supplement or a course in themselves.  There are also several blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to the idea of “Funschooling” which can help you design an entire curriculum around self directed study.

 

What if My Child Doesn’t Have an Interest to Pursue?

So you have provided the time, space, and support for your child to plunge ahead on this self education adventure, but he just doesn’t know what to study.  What to do now?  Is all hope lost? Never! There is always time to learn something new. Here are a few times to encourage your child to want to self educate.

  1. Read a wide array of literature and nonfiction books as read alouds and see which spark an interest.  It may take awhile, but something is bound to peak her curiosity and leave them with questions she wants answered.
  2. Take varied field trips (including virtual ones) to learn more about history, science, and geography. Allow the experience to intrigue your child to learn more.
  3. Have a reading week where you have no lesson plans other than reading as a family and individually.  Do not set any timers or make any required reading lists.  Reading is the first and more important components to self education.
  4. Let your child get bored!  Necessity may be the mother of invention but boredom is the father of ingenuity.  Once true boredom sets in she will need to find a way to counteract it.  This is where interest, ideas, and experimentation take off.

 

What if We Are Not Homeschoolers?

Self directed learning is by far easier in a homeschool but it is not exclusive to the homeschool life. Anyone can and should promote this practice.  Follow the suggestions above and find time, perhaps on a weekend afternoon or over a school break to give your children, and yourself, room to explore and learn. Discovering how to fit such activities into a busy schedule is a skill that will serve everyone well for a lifetime because learning should never end no matter how full our plate becomes.

 

Freedom to dive into a body of knowledge or conquer a manual skill builds self confidence and self reliance. Let your child steer the ship for a little while and see what shores you discover!

 

How do you promote self directed study in your home?

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