The HomeScholar Blog

Join Me on Facebook

HomeScholar Freebies!

The HomeScholar Free Records Training

The HomeScholar Free Transcripts Training

Jay Wile Free Training Webinar

5 Mistakes Mini-Course

7 Secrets Special Report

Homeschool Awards

2011 Constant Contact All Stars

Lee Binz, Diamond Author

2011 Constant Contact All Stars

I'm a winner of the 2009 Blog Awards!

2008 Best Curriculum and Business Blog!


Feed Count

Teaching Students to Learn

July 16, 2014

teaching students to learnTeaching Students to Learn

As homeschool parents, our plan is NOT to teach something. Our goal is teaching students to learn. I could have taught my kids “at grade level” and they might not have learned a thing. Instead, I offered them a curriculum at their ability level and they had to learn something they didn’t already know.


I believe that older teens MUST learn how to teach themselves. If they go to college, they will be expected to learn all the textbook material by themselves. College lectures are most often supplemental to the textbook – not the same. If they decide not to go to college, they still need to teach themselves life skill such as computer skills, how to do online banking, and how to buy a car.


My kids taught themselves Advanced Math (pre-Calculus) and Calculus class. They taught themselves physics. I know they understood the material due to the fact I gave them the tests. I didn’t know what the calculus symbols meant, however I knew that my kids answers matched the answers on the key! I could have taught them Biology and Chemistry (because I’m an RN and I understand that stuff) but they actually taught themselves in those subjects as well. It just worked out better for us when they were teaching themselves, while I simply checked up on them now and again. Alex taught himself economics, and went on to perform graduate level work in economic thought (we were told by his professor). He even taught himself psychology and business law, since he got fabulous grades on the college level CLEP exams in those subjects.


Here’s my point: kids will teach themselves something when they are interested in it. It’s OK for kids to do that. It works out great with regard to kids that are working on an intensely academic, college-prep curriculum as well as for kids that are in a laid back homeschool environment.


How are you teaching students to learn in your homeschool? What does your child teach themselves in your homeschool? Let me know in the comments!

Please note: This post was originally published in September 2011 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel.  You’ll  get notified when I create new videos on homeschool high school topics!


  1. Kathy Wright says:

    I have multiple testimonies of my own of praying about the difficulty of an assignment that I didn’t think my daughter could handle, and so I’d let it go…..then two months or so down the road there she’d be, on her own with no prompting, doing a similar project for her own enjoyment. With prayer, the Lord sees to it that they get what they need. That’s my experience so far.

    September 22nd, 2011 at 6:49 am

  2. jodi says:

    i agree. but what do you do when your high schooler(s) lacks the motivation to self-teach (required subjects that they chose this summer) and your circumstances dictate that you can’t be around to be checking up on them? we have graduated 2, have 2 in high school (senior boy is non-motivated, sophomore girl is very motivated and doing well except in french), then there’s 1 in jr. high and 2 in elementary. i’m the primary caregiver for my elderly in-laws (@4 appts/wk) am recovering from surgery and require physical therapy 2/wk myself and am primary counsel for a 19yo girl living with us just kicked out of the foster care system trying to get her 3yo daughter out of the system, so attending all her court dates and driving to her physical and final orthodontist appts. (and i work 10-15 hours/week outside the home).

    it is so discouraging that what started well (them knowing what was expected and getting it all done without my hand holding) has turned into getting behind and doing nothing when i’m not home.

    September 22nd, 2011 at 1:31 pm

  3. Lee says:

    Jodi, this article may be some encouragement: “What If? Homeschool High School Without Fear” and this one may help with your senior: “Senior Year Homeschool and Way Behind!”

    September 22nd, 2011 at 1:39 pm

  4. J W says:

    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

    Raise your hand if you’ve ever studied all week for a test on Friday and forgot it all on Saturday.

    September 22nd, 2011 at 5:50 pm

  5. Lee says:

    < <>>
    That would be me, JW :)

    September 22nd, 2011 at 7:17 pm

  6. Patricia says:

    Lee, you’re exactly right, let your kids learn at their ability level, provide some guidance, and then step back so they have room to soar. I have noted from birth that my children can’t help but learn…in spite of me! :-) Our most laid back subjects are history and geography, and my 13 yr old son scored at a post high school level in both on his first standardized test. Made me realize that my role in his life is shifting from “mommy” to “mentor.”

    November 19th, 2011 at 8:56 pm

  7. Lee says:

    Pat, I love how you say That’s awesome!

    November 21st, 2011 at 8:21 am

  8. Tijuanna says:

    Thank you for this encouraging article. As a mom to 6 (the oldest is an 8th grader completing 3 high school classes), I needed some help in remembering that I don’t have to “know it all” for my child to succeed. My husband and I were discussing last night if we should send our 8th grader to Christian high school next year. Thanks for the reminder that quality education still begins at home ;-)

    December 6th, 2011 at 8:46 am

  9. Jenna says:

    Thanks for your encouraging honesty. As a homeschooling mother of eight, my older students, by necessity, had to learn things on their own. It seems to have given them a boost of feeling self-sufficient. I am often amazed by things they know, and I ask, “Where did you learn that?” When they tell me they learned it from their textbook, I feel guilty because I think I should have known. Maybe instead of guilt, I can feel thankful and blessed.

    October 26th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

  10. Lisa says:

    My daughter (14) just wants to draw all the time. Constantly prod her to do school.Feel like giving up.

    November 18th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

  11. Lee says:

    This article may help – it’s about how annoyance can point out some good stuff;

    November 19th, 2012 at 10:48 am

  12. Julie says:

    Hey Lee… Great article! I totally agree. I had to teach my son the binary system the other day and I taught myself. I told him I didn’t know how to do it and so we learned it together…. That is the best way to learn something. As an adult I’m teaching myself things all the time. Just for an example, how did your son teach himself math? Was the explanation in his curriculum? Or did he research it? And, at what age did you feel it was ok to step down from primary teacher to letting them take over? High School?

    December 23rd, 2013 at 5:10 am

  13. Lee says:

    They taught themselves math using video tutorials. They would watch the video to learn the concepts, then practice with problems in the math book. You can see this here: They taught themselves through high school, until calculus, and then went directly into college, both getting 4.0 in college calculus, so I know it worked.

    December 23rd, 2013 at 7:38 am

  14. Valerie Basham says:

    I agree! My daughter has used the DIVE CD Roms to learn Algebra. It’s been a blessing to see her pace herself, set goals and achieve them. It’s a lot of work to teach them to read and do math in early elementary, but it pays off later when they can do so much on their own.

    August 1st, 2014 at 3:10 pm

  15. Assistant to The HomeScholar says:

    That’s very true, Valerie!

    The younger years are very demanding, but it’s wonderful to see them take ownership of their education.

    Assistant to The HomeScholar

    August 4th, 2014 at 1:57 pm

  16. Mary says:

    Lee, I just want to say how much you have blessed me this year! I was feeling pretty discouraged, with 2 in high school and 2 in middle school. God has really spoken to me through you as well as others. Thanks for your helpful, kind words!!!

    August 14th, 2014 at 5:37 pm

  17. Lee says:

    Thank you for encouraging me today Mary!

    August 14th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

  18. Sharon says:

    Having dropped out of high school in tenth grade, I knew I would only be able to get my children so far academically. Out of necessity, I moved them towards self teaching. With my daughter I put in hours for the first five years of school. I made sure she had a good foundation. Then I gradually moved to more of a supervisory role-checking her work, grading the test, discussing the books. (At least if I read what she was/is reading we could discuss together.) As soon as she was capable of understanding the instructions she was on her own in all subjects. She is now in ninth grade. She has consistently tested in the 99th percentile on SAT exams. Her two strongest subjects (Algebra and English) were the two I’d struggled with in my school years.

    Now I’m laying the foundation with my nine yr. old son.

    January 9th, 2015 at 6:25 am

  19. Assistant to The HomeScholar says:

    Brilliant, Sharon!
    I applaud your unstoppable spirit!
    Assistant to The HomeScholar

    January 9th, 2015 at 11:51 am

Leave a comment