As our children move into the high school years, one of our biggest goals is to shift them toward complete independence in learning. Student-led classes can be an incredibly effective way to make this happen. In fact, these classes actually go above and beyond basic independence by allowing our children to reach deeper into the actual planning of what, when, and how to learn.
What is a student-led class? Quite simply, it’s a class that is mostly led by the student in the vision, planning, learning, and completion of work. I say “mostly” because you aren’t quite off the hook as the parent just yet. You will certainly still take part in the planning process at some level as you approve or help tweak the plan. And, of course, you will be responsible for regular check-in meetings, evaluating the work, and assigning grades. Trust me, though, the minimal effort will be very much worth it when you see the amazing results that can come from a student-led course that’s taken seriously.
There are several wonderful benefits that come from allowing a high schooler to have at least some freedom in designing their own class(es). Here are a few of the most powerful ones:
- The planning of student-led classes requires kids to spend a lot of time practicing higher-order thinking skills that are vitally important to train before moving into adulthood.
- A student-led high school class is usually (but not always) built around special subjects of interest for teens. Besides having the opportunity to deeply explore interests, kids tend to naturally learn to support their own learning styles.
- Because of the vast amount of responsibility students have in this type of class, they actually tend to push harder than they might otherwise.
Not every teen is ready to take on the responsibility of a student-led high school course. On the other hand, sometimes a student-led course is just the ticket you’ve been looking for to train a new level of responsibility.
There are always exceptions, but I generally recommend waiting until the junior and senior years to even think about this type of course. By that time, most high schoolers should have the maturity and well-rounded academic experiences to pull off a really good study. They also have knocked out quite a lot of their required classes and have a little free time to plan the student-led ones that will be most beneficial and productive. That’s not to say that you can’t turn a typical high school course like biology or American history into a student-led one! It’s just that student-led often translates to “a class that a student really, really wants to take, but we can’t find the perfect curriculum to make it happen”.
If this idea sounds wonderful to you (and it should), join me to learn exactly how to implement student-led classes successfully from start to finish!
Approximately 1.5 hours of training
Bonus: You’ll have access to a private Facebook group where you can feel free to ask any questions!