Importance of Independent Learning for Middle and High Schoolers

By Ailan Gates 2022-08-03 18:35:08

Independent learning is synonymously linked to other learning approaches such as ‘personalisation’, ‘student-centred learning’ and ‘ownership’ of learning. It is “the ability to take charge of one’s learning.”


This process allows an individual to think, perform, and track their own studies autonomously, without the same levels of support they might receive from a teacher centred format. Students will develop an innate ability to recognise and decide which, what, why and how educational materials will benefit them and how to apply it to their learning.


In a nutshell, independent learning allows students to set their own goals and monitor and evaluate their academic development. Their self-motivation and organisation will be the key driver of their learning.

Why is it important?

It is an extremely valuable skill for students to have as it doesn’t just apply to them completing high school, but also ensures an easier transition into university, the workplace and beyond.


Independent learning or self-regulated learning has come into focus with educational theorists over the last decade as strong evidence suggests that this form of learning really benefits students, particularly in the form of improved motivation and better time management. However, independent learning is not simply having students learn by themselves but refers to educators developing a student led learning environment that allows students to take an active role in their education.


• It can develop inquisitiveness, by providing opportunities for long term research and other work.


• It can develop collaboration, by involving parents and others in the learning process and so providing an important motivational function.


It can develop persistence, byallowing students to develop their ability to work independently.


It can develop discipline, by allowing valuable practice and extension of skills, knowledge and understanding learned in the classroom.


It can develop imagination, byallowing students to use materials and other sources of information that are not always available in the classroom.



What can parents do at home?

Your child will need to work more independently at middle and secondary school so below are a few things you can do at home.


1. Provide a quiet environment with good lighting, comfortable study chair and table with good ventilation, and for good measure, a diffuser with an essential oil that encourages concentration like vetiver, lavender, cedarwood, or a premixed option does wonders.

2. Have a regular independent learning routine.

3. Praise effort, rather than achievement.

4. Show an interest.
5. Set a good example.
6. Monitor: check your child’s planner and independent learning.

Checklist for students to become independent learners

• Read Actively: become an active reader paying close attention to words and their meaning. If you don’t know a word look it up in a dictionary.

• Learn to Skim Read: develop your ability to speed read or skim through copious materials to find out if they are relevant before deciding to read in detail, and then summarise the text in your notes.

• Become Independent: learn to work on your own for long periods without seeking help from others. This will develop useful practices in the process of learning.

• Different Sources: review multiple sources when researching a topic.

• Don’t Give Up: when the going gets tough and becomes intensely challenging, don’t give up. Stay at it until you understand what you need to do to overcome the hurdle.

• Ask for Help: asking for support and advice is imperative within the independent learning paradigm. Approach your teachers, parents and peers and get the help you need.

• Communicate: discuss your work, ideas, arguments, or points of view as this simply encourages critical thinking and analysis. It also aids in expanding your thoughts and arguments.

• Set Goals: an ideal way to stay motivated is to set goals. Setting goals will keep you on track and maintain your momentum.

• Time Management: work out your schedule and allocate time for each task. However don’t be too rigid with your schedule. Be flexible when things change, but make sure to prioritise relevant tasks.