Raising Independent Thinkers
I have watched my children grow up and become adults. It is truly a gift to witness them making wise choices that reflect their personal values. They are able to think about each decision that comes their way and choose for themselves what is good and right. As a family, we all need each other and advise each other but, in the end, the decision is still theirs to make.
Life is full of choices, good or bad, right or wrong, and these choices are hard enough without the pressures of the world. Raising kids to be independent thinkers is of vital importance.
Independent thinkers have the capability to weigh out all of the pros and cons and come up with a creative solution to the problem.
Even if this means talking to others that they trust about the problem, this is a sign of a healthy, mature, independent thinker. They value others the same as they value themselves and that’s an essential problem-solving skill.
Following the Crowd Is Dangerous
There will be many times that our kids will be faced with decisions that require them to “go against the grain” and refrain from giving in to peer pressure. I hope to raise children that will be the leader and set the example and not be negatively influenced by others.
Blindly following the crowd can be dangerous. We all know of the many harmful obstacles that could be placed in their paths. For many of us, these things are the very reason our kids are not in public school in the first place.
Everyone Is an Original
Another reason that I want my children to be independent thinkers is that I believe that everyone has something original to give to the world. You have a perspective and a set of experiences that is unique to you and everyone’s perspective is valuable. If kids get in the habit of relying on others to think for them, then they always will.
Why Homeschoolers Have an Advantage
Being homeschoolers, we have an advantage over a lot of parents. These values can be integrated into the very fabric of school and life; in every choice that our children make on a daily basis. But how do we do that?
Charlotte Mason believed that self-education is the only possible education. The only way to learn is to be able to think about a problem and find the solution ourselves; to have a desire for knowledge about a concept and then to find a way to fulfill that desire.
We can nurture this characteristic in our children every day. Countless times a day, our kids are faced with decisions, and we can be there to help them make right choices and to encourage them to eventually make these choices on their own.
How to Raise an Independent Thinker
Here are my five key steps to raising an independent thinker.
1. Nurture Good Communication
This process begins with good communication. Interact with your children often, even in little ways, and don’t be afraid to talk to them about the hard stuff. They need a parent who is not afraid to get “in yo biness.” They need to know that you are serious and devoted to helping them no matter what the cost.
This is key to helping them get to know themselves and trusting you and themselves. Kids need to know that they can trust you with the difficult issues and that when they talk to you, they are making the right choice as an independent thinker.
2. Independent Thinkers Seek Wise Counsel
Teach them that wise decisions are never made alone and that there is safety in a multitude of counselors. They need to know that getting others advice before making a decision is wise and shows their independence in being able to follow a set of steps that will lead to the best choice. This will teach them to gradually be able to make more and more decisions for themselves while also knowing that it is always honorable to talk to someone about things, as well.
3. Use Curriculum That Encourages Thinking
My children don’t do assignments that ask them questions about the lessons that they have learned. Instead, they are required to think about what they have learned and put that into their own words and articulate it back to me. This forces them to think all day long; not to just absorb facts, but to think for themselves.
They are given quality literature that promotes ideas and is meant to be pondered and to challenge you to rise higher.
4. Teach Them to Be Problem Solvers
When my children encounter a problem in their schoolwork, I try to remember not to jump in and fix it for them right away but to guide them in finding the answer for themselves, instead. I ask them how they could go about finding the answer and I try to leave as much of the process to them as possible. This builds confidence in your children as they see the results of their labors.
5. Model Independent Thinking
Remember, our actions will make much more of an impact on our children than our words. They are always watching, and they need to see us being independent thinkers, too. They need to see us seeking wise counsel and taking chances. They need to see us facing our fears and not giving in to the pressure of others when our heart leads us down a different path than the norm.
The homeschool environment can be perfect for teaching our kids to be independent thinkers. It is up to us to raise a generation that can lead others in making wise decisions and work together to make the world a better place. I know that my children can face the world and make a difference in it by just being themselves. Making a difference in the world’s tomorrow, in our children’s tomorrow doesn’t start soon, but right now today.