Home Education

Helping Your Children Become More Independent: On Motives and Accountability

March 13, 2014 by Brandy Vencel

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ll of the examples I have listed throughout this series are only ideas. The principle is the important thing: allow and encourage the child to do for himself what he can and when he can. This is, simply, a part of growing up.

I do have one hesitation, and it is that I’ve met a few homeschool moms that are encouraging inappropriate levels of independence because they are overwhelmed or they just want their children to quit pestering them. These are bad reasons for independence. We must take care that we do things for their good, and not for ours. I understand that we all have emergencies, so I mean this as a general principle.

Independence and responsibility do not mean a lack of accountability. In fact, they necessitate it. As a child makes strides toward independence, it becomes imperative that we make sure that assignments are actually done, that the truth about them is actually told. Math work still needs to be checked. My oldest has learned to check his own Latin, but I still check that he checked it, and find out what mistakes he made.

If we are requiring older children to make three entries in the Book of Centuries per week, and one in the nature notebook, and also daily selections in the commonplace book, we need to have a time set aside each week to check the notebooks. If we do it right, this can be a time where our students share their hearts with us.

If we’ve allowed a child to graduate to reading two or three free reading books at once instead only one, we need to make sure that progress has been made. This might be as easy as glancing at the location of a bookmark. Another issue with free reads that can come up is that they travel, which can translate into damage or misplacement. With increased freedom comes increased responsibility. At our house, if a child damages a book, he must help repair it {even if it was an accident}. If it is lost, or damaged beyond repair, he must pay to replace it.

It would be sad if, once a child reaches the level of independent reading, they ran quickly away to seed, and this bore no fruit in their lives, because there was no accountability.

So: set aside time to check work and hold your children accountable for what you have given them to do independently. What is that saying I’ve heard? You cannot expect what you do not inspect. I think that is wise.

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