The Self Propelled Advantage


Independent student

Once upon a time I had a struggling learner.  He was getting lost in the public school system.  Giving 100% in the classroom while being shuffled from this class to that.  This student missed just about every 1st recess for 3 yrs because he could not work fast enough to finish seatwork.  By 4th grade, all the extra effort was taking a toll.  Picture a boy prepared to focus and do his best at school for 6 hrs.  He is removed from his regular class for special part of the day to give extra work to where he struggles.  (reading comprehension btw).  He receives extra homework for this said special class.  Then he returns to regular class only to be handed not only the “regular” homework, but also the extra work from missing time in the class.  SOooo, how do you think this child feels when he has completely focused all these hours into the school day, then has to come home to 2/3 more homework that an average child? (remember, regular homework, then extra special work and extra missed class work).  His brain is tired by this point.  Giving more work to a student does not make him any smarter, just overwhelmed.   and in this case, being overwhelmed leads to feeling stupid.  end of story.

Fresh start:  homeschooling.
no more distractions, no more comparing, no more shuffling, no more….labeling.

The Self-Propelled Advantage lines up with my parenting style.

The early years you nurture (infant-5ish)
The middle years you guide (6-12)
The older years you mentor (13 +)

Now admittedly, with self-teaching, you may have a child prepared and ready as early as 7, when maturity and fluent reading skills are available.  Others may not be ready until they are 11.

What is self-teaching?
One who reads and does their work for themselves.

Question (to other homeschool moms or parents who help with homework):

How often to we read information to turn around and explain the lesson to the child.
Like adjectives?  or the Civil War?  or Sea Turtles?  (just examples mind you)
If the child can read, why can they not read the same information and learn straight from the source?
Why do we feel the need to be the go-between?

When I began homeschooling, I helped spoon-feed information to my kids.  I dug up the information, printed off lessons, highlighted things I thought were important, etc…

Guess what I found out?
The child only learns as much as you offer.

The year I let my first homeschooler (note above story) loose to self teach…

I was nervous.

We chose the Robinson Curriculum due to the quality content of proper grammar and the advance vocabulary program it provided.

… and he flourished.  He was no longer reluctant, but willing to do the work.

I left my fluent readers to get the independent studies done for the mornings at their own pace.  They far exceeded what I was requiring them to do originally.  When I use to assign a text book, the typical assignment would be to read a chapter, then answer the questions.  My daughter, not aware of those type of limits, randomly chose a textbook to read (for fun, in 2nd grade) and devoured the whole book in a few days.  It was intended for a semester worth of lessons.  She didn’t know that.  She has learned that if there is something she wants to learn about, she is free to explore the knowledge… not wait for me to find lesson plans for her.  (honestly, I couldn’t keep up with her if I tried).

When does self-learning begin?

It is a slow transition… but most kids can be fully self-learning when they can read fluently.

What does the transition look like?

When did you child begin to dress him/herself?   feed themselves?  brush their own teeth?  These are all processes of self-learning… a way of becoming independent.  With education the transition begins when they begin to pull out their schoolwork to prepare for lessons… then you catch them starting the lessons w/o you… then you simply follow up on the lesson when they have completed it to reassure them… then finally let them look back and check their own work.


I still LOVE group studies.  To gather together as a family;  to learn and explore. 

All our independent studies are done in the mornings.
This would be our core studies which are mandatory on a daily basis;
reading, writing, and arithmetic.

This frees our afternoons to explore our interests; nature walks, foreign languages, baking cookies, board games, growing gardens (or not).

My goal is to let my kids know there is no limit to educating oneself…

and this is where learning becomes a lifestyle.

Joanne Calderwood is the one who changed my approach to homeschooling.  She has been a wonderful mentor over many years.  If you are looking for motivation, I encourage you to check out her books at URtheMOM dot com

and of course, feel free to contact me also with any questions or ideas that you are pondering.  *smile*

CSC_0803 CSC_0802

Joanne w/ her four youngest daughters, me and my daughter, Carole, and Barbara Besaw (an RC mentor)
at the Oregon SPA conference.

**no affiliate links in this post.


2 thoughts on “The Self Propelled Advantage

  1. LOVE Self-Learning. Oh.My.Yes.

    I have homeschooled for 22 years . . . all learning styles . . . all learning abilities . . . many types and styles of curriculums. We have primarily used the Sonlight Curriculum for the past 4 years and Love, Love, Love it! My readers LOVE it . . . and my struggling-readers have learned to love to read. Oh yea!

    Books, Books, and More Books. That is what learning/education/homeschooling is all about !!!

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Yes! It is ALL about books! =) I just found freedom from assigning specific pages or chapters to just letting them read. Sonlight is great for that too! 😉
    I think it is the steady consistency that is so beneficial to it all, eh?

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