As a homeschooling mom, you have many goals for your kids, but perhaps one of the most important is that they become independent learners and thinkers. You want them to show initiative, love learning, and succeed on their own!

As your kids enter the teen years, they are more ready than ever to take over their learning, with support from you, of course. As your children mature, you can gradually increase their level of responsibility, ensuring that they grow from capable and successful teens into confident and persistent adults. Here are some tips that I follow to move my own teens toward learning independently.

How to Help Your Teen Start Learning Independently

Integrate Your Teen’s Interests into the Curriculum

If your teens are excited about learning, it will be so much easier for them to take responsibility and work independently. Involve them in discussions as soon as you start planning your school year, and figure out how you can incorporate their interests into the curriculum. Do they want to learn how to code, take beautiful photos, write poetry? When these things are integrated into their days, they’ll surprise you with the ownership they’ll take of their learning. And don’t hesitate to change course mid-year! Their interests will wax and wane, and we need to be flexible.

Make a Written Schedule

Your teens shouldn’t have to wait for you to work through their lessons. A written schedule will help keep your teens on task and work independently, so you can take care of other things. At our house we keep it simple by using a one-page Excel form that each teen knows how to open, make any necessary changes (usually just the dates), and print. They’re responsible for keeping a current one and showing it to me as they work their way through it during the week. (For my younger kids, I keep the schedule out on my desk and we check things off throughout the day as they complete it.)

Always Inspect and Discuss Their Work

Just because your teens are working toward independence doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be accountability. I like to use our lunch break to go over what they’ve accomplished in the morning and what their plans are for the afternoon. We usually get too busy by mid-afternoon to have a discussion about schoolwork. This also gives you an idea of how they’re progressing and what they still might need help with. I try to remember the old phrase “You must inspect what you expect.”

Let Your Teens Be Accountable to Someone Else

This is a great step for teens who aren’t quite ready for independent learning, but still want to work toward that goal. Let them take an online class, enroll in Dual Credit at Home, or attend classes at your local homeschool co-op. This will give them an opportunity to work for other teachers or toward their own goals with less oversight from you.

Eventually, your teens will be fully responsible for their own education. After all, raising an independent learner is part of raising a motivated and responsible adult. We all know the daily responsibilities can get overwhelming, but the finish line is in sight! Let me encourage you to finish strong!