Thursday, October 3, 2013

Transitioning to Independence Part IV

Continued from Part III.

As mentioned before, I am using outsourced classes to help him become a more independent learner so this final part focuses on some of the questions we ask ourselves before we sign up for these classes. I have also listed some skills I teach to help him become more adept and careful about handing in his best work. My goal is for him to start doing as many of these things automatically as he can.

Goal Setting 
  1. What exactly is it you want to learn? What exactly do you hope to achieve?
  2. How do you want to learn it? (I am assuming that we will choose an online provider or an online syllabus source to create our own curriculum if we decide not to use an online provider)
Choosing A Course
  1. Read the course provider's course description.
  2. Is this course going to fulfill your learning goals?
  3. Is it too expensive? How will we pay, and in one sum or in installments?
  4. Is it live or recorded? 
  5. Is it at your own pace? 
  6. Do we have all the information we need in order to sign up, or should we email the teacher to ask more? (I usually lean towards emailing the teacher because I think it's safer to ask as many questions as possible)
  7. Is there a money-back policy if you decide to drop the course?
  8. Let's talk/ think about it for a while (if we have time before sign ups are due).

Course Materials
  1. Is it 100% online? 
  2. Is there a part-time option?
  3. Are there live meetings? Are there recorded lectures? How does all this work? For example, do you need to set up a Skype account? What other computer requirements are necessary?
  4. Is there a textbook and should we buy it new or can we find it cheaper somewhere else? 
  5. Are materials downloaded? 
  6. How do you print/ store downloaded materials? For e.g. do we have enough binders?
  7. Do you need a separate notebook for this or will notes be kept online/ in a word processing document? 
  8. Do you need other tools like a pen tablet, a calculator, lab kits? 
  9. How do you hand in homework? Is it uploaded onto the website? Is it emailed in? Does it need to be scanned and emailed?
Course Registration and Syllabus
  1. Read the course syllabus carefully (usually available on the course provider's website but sometimes sent to student and/ or parent by email). 
  2. What days are live classes (if any) held? What time? What time zone is your instructor in?
  3. Look at how many hours a week you will be spending covering this syllabus. 
  4. How much time do you want to spend? 
  5. Do you want to do this full-time or part-time? Can we/you afford not to do it full-time? 
  6. Will you be able to go your own way with project ideas for a while then come back to continue the course? 
  7. Will you be able to take a few months off to do something else (like you did with your first online physics course)?
Starting the Course
  1. Be prepared to ask lots of questions and make mistakes the first few weeks. 
  2. Is homework taking longer/ shorter than anticipated? Do we need to re-discuss the time commitments for this course?
  3. How can we make more time for the course's requirements (if necessary?)
    Sometimes, we've had to be brutal about dropping other things. I try to get kiddo's buy-in on this as much as possible.
  4. Have you made a folder in your computer for this course? What naming protocol are you using?
  5. How will you name each file so your instructor knows instantly that it is from you and for which homework assignment?
This list and our efforts are very much works in progress. I hope to update these posts whenever I can.

Links to previous parts:
Part I, Part II and Part III.


  1. Wow! What wonderful executive function skills to develop! I wish I had such comprehensive list to help me guide through my college classes. Back then, I just signed up the required classes and did them without much thought to planning. This is very helpful! Best to kiddo on his journey towards independence! I'm sure he'll excel whatever he does.

    1. I was the same. Things just fell into place for me but I was much older -- 17 or 18 -- when I was ready for independence. Kiddo is showing so much more inclination towards independence at a much younger age but before having well-developed EF skills. I had more maturity. He has more drive and is much more intense than I ever was. :P I'm introducing it now just in case he will need to use it earlier than I did. :)


Comments are moderated and I will approve your comment as soon as I can. Thanks for taking the time to write a note!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...