Articles for parents

Encouraging children to work through problems independently

Jun 2012
Children who are left to work through problems and tasks independently are then given ownership of their learning.

Schools are increasingly looking at ways of developing a broad skills base in children that will equip them with the necessary qualities to succeed in later life.

According to a collection of academic research published on the London Metropolitan University website recently, students feel they learn best under the following conditions:

  • at their own pace;
  • at times and places of their own choosing;
  • often with other people around, especially fellow-learners;
  • when they feel in control of their learning.

In addition, the data outlines that the role of the teacher is more as a facilitator to learning than a direct instructor. Teachers are then charged with supporting children in the learning process in the following ways:

  • providing learners with resource materials;
  • whetting learners appetites to learn;
  • providing learners with chances to test out their learning;
  • giving learners feedback on their progress;
  • helping learners to make sense of what they have learned.

Children who are left to work through problems and tasks independently are then given ownership of their learning and they gain the ability to self-motivate as well as developing independent problem solving strategies.

By giving pupils regular opportunities to work by themselves, without the constant support of an adult, parents and schools are aiding children to develop the skills that they will need to draw on at every stage of their education.

In the majority of schools, children are already being asked to plan their own investigations in science, identify what they would like to find out in a history/geography topic and to set their own progress targets in numeracy and literacy.

Speaking at the annual conference for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Jon Overton, a teacher from inner-London, argued that children now need a broad range of independent skills:

'What we need to equip our young people with are skills; enquiry skills, the ability to innovate. That is what universities are saying is lacking, that is what employers say is lacking; transferrable skills that ultimately will make a difference in the life of a young person.'