Set your child on a self-learning path

Parents must make conscious efforts to help children break out of the teacher-led learning system by encouraging them to self-learn and study, says life skills trainer Jayalakshmi Vaidhyanathan.

The art of self-learning is a vital but neglected skill in the Indian education system. With rote learning and chalk-n-talk pedagogies defining school education, self-learning is seldom encouraged. Yet, the art of self-learning i.e, self-study with the help of books, Internet, or through exploration etc is imperative for effective learning and success in exams, the workplace later on in life. When children self-learn, they pace themselves and learn according to their own speed, aptitudes and tap into their innate curiosity and creativity to assume responsibility for their own learning and progress.

But, self-learning doesn’t come naturally to all children. Parents need to make conscious efforts to help children break out of the teacher-led learning system by encouraging them to self-study. Here are some ways you can put your children on a self-learning path.


To nurture self-learning, you may need to make some drastic changes in your home environment and lifestyle. For instance, you will need to limit television and Internet screen time and slot in family reading time. A home library, subscribing to high-quality magazines, and visiting bookshops frequently encourages development of reading skills in early age. When children observe parents talk enthusiastically about books, they develop natural love of reading and self-learning.

You could also:

• Play story-telling games, where each person narrates a part of the story of a book

• Select interesting fairy tales and let children suggest alternate endings

• Encourage children to write their own graphic novel/comic strip

• Read aloud to children

• Discuss characters from books and how similar they are to people you know

These activities help you bond with your children who begin to associate books with good times. Once children develop a reading habit, then academics becomes interesting and not drudgery.

Set a routine

Encourage your children to prepare a well-planned daily routine comprising study and unstructured play time, as well as time for developing a skill or following a hobby. Help them create a timetable for self-study of various subjects and research. A relaxed and well-organised mind is motivated and charged to embark on self-learning.

If a child is frequently nagged, she will develop a deaf ear to adult instructions. By enabling your child to prepare, follow and modify her own weekly plan, daily timetable, and checklist, you are setting the stage for positive thinking and self-learning. Express appreciation of your child for taking charge of her learning.


Pushing and pressurising a child to do more can be effective temporarily, but in the long run, self-motivation is what will lead to success. After your child reaches the age of five or six, back off and encourage her to become self-motivated and praise her efforts and results. Allow for experimentation and failure, and avoid the common refrain I told you so”, which can be self-defeating and destructive. There should be no fear of being judged, ridiculed or reprimanded for experimenting with new ideas. Self-motivation is imperative for successful self-learning.

You can develop children’s self-motivation by:

• Discussing achievers in fields of your child’s interests

• Providing access to DIY (do it yourself) books on subjects that excite your child’s imagination and through inspirational movies and videos

• Enrolling them in skills learning workshops and/or summer camps

• Visiting museums, zoos, and botanical gardens, nature walks and factory tours

As you place your child on the path of self-learning, you will also experience the excitement of watching her develop intellectual independence and learn and retain information better.

(The author is founder of Satori Life Skills Solutions, Bangalore)

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