Independent Learning In Junior School

By David Chapman, Assistant Principal, Teaching and Learning / Global Partnerships

When asked what do parents and carers want for their children at Macquarie College – a common response is that they wish for their children to be kept safe, and given an environment that brings happiness. At Macquarie College, we believe that independent learning can play a key role in a student’s holistic development and wellbeing.

Independent learning in primary schools in Australia has sometimes been forgotten as a focus, or perhaps treated as a lesser skill when compared to developing obedience (a compliant attitude) or rule following. Learning to work as a group, and to follow instructions, is an important skill, but at Macquarie College we also value independent learning in Junior School.

Learn more about independent learning and how the College fosters it below.

The 6 Cs and independent learning

Many parents are seeking a school with a strong academic focus, as well as programs which help to build their child’s confidence, communication skills and creativity. The latter group are part of what is known as the 6 Cs. These six global competencies, developed and extended by Michael Fullan (University of Toronto, Canada), are:

Critical Thinking: Using reasoning and analysis to respond to and assess situations, experiences, and problems.
Collaboration: Working together as a team and incorporating the skills and talents of each individual to create a better outcome.
Communication: Presenting information clearly to inform, persuade, or motivate, while also listening to and valuing others’ opinions, voices, and evidence.
Creativity: The ability to innovate and explore new ideas for problem-solving.
Citizenship: Learning your connection to, and role in, the global society and culture, and how you can contribute.
Character: Developing responsibility, caring, kindness, and civility.

One of the core traits running through these parental requests and the 6 Cs is the development of independent learning.

Encouraging independent learning in Junior School

Integrating ‘‘Investigations’’ into daily lessons

A key step in developing independent learning has been the integration of “Investigations” in the Early Years Program. Investigations are a learning experience that allows young learners to choose their preferred learning activities each morning.

For example, in our Year 1 spaces, a child has the option to start the day learning to sew, or build with blocks, or explore plants in the outside spaces. There are many options from which our learners can choose and these options are carefully planned by educators, and updated several times throughout the term.

Investigations as part of independent learning are based on the learning methodologies developed by Walker Learning. This rich start to the day has been observed by our educators to provide a positive and balanced approach to learning that impacts the rest of the program.

Creating opportunities to support student agency

As an education provider, it’s important to create opportunities for students to engage in independent learning. Independent learning has been a key development over recent years at Macquarie College, with increased student agency in their learning via the MCX program, amongst others.

Our MCX program provides students with amazing opportunities to learn with their hands, as well as with their heads, and to do so in a manner that promotes individual design concepts.

Learn more about independent learning at Macquarie College

If you would like some more information on how the 6 C’s are integrated into life at Macquarie College, please feel free to contact us at any time.