What Happened to Ms/Mr Independent?

One of the things many of us may have had to sacrifice at this time is a sense of personal space and independence – that quiet time to do things on our own and to do things for ourselves.

Parents and teachers who once went to work each day and enjoyed a different routine, some time with colleagues or time out on a lunch break and transit may now be spending all day in the family home thinking of others and working towards common goals.   And while family is wonderful, as is doing things for others, it’s totally understandable to miss your own routine and a little ‘me time’.  It’s also understandable to be counting down to returning to normal!

While we are still spending much of our time at home, and perhaps still working or learning from home, find new ways to take that time for yourself – an evening to watch the shows YOU want to watch, rather than family-friendly shows, or the freedom to walk alone up for a coffee in your lunch break rather than inviting everyone with you.  Respecting each other’s personal space and personal interests will be a key part in your family thriving during these times, and as adults you may need to model this for the younger people in your house.

While missing independence affects us all, it may in fact have been particularly difficult for young people – especially older teenagers who may be missing part-time jobs (and the income that comes with it), sporting clubs, and other hobbies and interests as well as being their own person at school.  And some of these may not be returning for a few weeks yet.

Fostering opportunities for them to be independent is incredibly important for their continued maturation, and for their sense of self-determination.

Together families can discuss ways for young people to show independence and self-determination at this time.

  • Regularly scheduled contributions to chores should be seen as a privilege of their age and part of their commitment to their family rather than a drudgery. Older students can do their own washing and ironing for example. Perhaps they can plan and cook a meal for the whole family this week?
  • Encourage students to problem solve and seek solutions rather than complain
  • Allow young people to create their own schedules and routines for this time – including all that you believe is important (perhaps all the daily habits suggested by the Hive!) and then help them evaluate whether it is working
  • Ask their opinion on household and family issues and show they can play a senior role in the family

In addition, independence and organization is incredibly important for young people to be successful online learners.  Just basic engagement in an online learning program takes the following level of organization:

  • Knowing what class to be in and when
  • Ensuring work is done on time and submitted in appropriate formats
  • Making sure you take breaks at appropriate times without reminders of bells


But being REALLY successful in online learning, a high amount of independent thought is needed.

Lee Watanabe-Crockett of Wabisabi Learning suggests that two crucial elements of independent learners are setting learning goals and evaluating these goals regularly.  For those of you familiar with the term, it’s about having a Growth Mindset.

It’s easy to see already that the students thriving in the world of remote learning are both interested in their work and goal -oriented – these are the ones asking themselves how they can make the most of this opportunity.  My best students are engaging with extra resources I have posted online, and taking advantage of the chance to make decisions about their learning.  They also seek regular feedback because they are invested in their own success.

Investing in independence in other ways all contributes to the confidence and mindset to be a successful learner.  As usual, family and school work hand in hand!

Helping your son or daughter maintain and further their independence at this time will assist them to thrive even in these difficult circumstances.  Remember how crucial a sense of independence is to us all.