How to Build a Foundation for Independent Learning

As much as you may love being a part of your child’s daily walk with God and carefully teaching him to seek God, it has always been your goal as a parent to carefully guide him to a place where he will be able to seek God on his own. You won’t always be standing over his shoulder and telling him what decisions he needs to make—as much as you might want to.

One day, your child’s relationship with the Lord will be his own responsibility. Education is no different. Just as you want your children to be capable of making right choices on their own, you want them to be able to learn on their own.

The process of developing a child into an independent learner  is sometimes called “scaffolding.” Often when you see a building under construction, you also see scaffolding around it. The wooden or metal framework supports the workers as they build the structure itself. For example, a bricklayer stands on a scaffold as he works on the exterior walls of a building. Though essential to the construction process, the scaffolding is only temporary.

Scaffolding in education works the same way. The teacher or parent provides support and makes connections to help learners continue making progress independently. Here are a couple of ways you can help your children become independent learners.


Help them make connections between old and new information

Have you ever told a funny story only to get to the end and realize that no one’s laughing? And then you remembered one small but crucial detail that changed everything about the story and made it funny?

One of the most important elements for any lesson is appropriate background information—which can sometimes be that small but crucial missing detail that keeps your children from understanding a new concept—like knowing a particular word’s definition before you can understand a scientific law. If they have all the information but still don’t understand, help them make the connection between what they already know and what they need to learn.

Sometimes, this part of scaffolding is as simple as reminding your children of the necessary information. Other times, it might mean referring back to previous discussions or asking a specific question about the missing information. You could also use graphic organizers, word webs, vocabulary lists, or even a metaphor to help make connections to ideas your children already understand, such as the comparison between your child’s growing faith and his education, or the funny story with the missing detail.

Help them discern how they learn best

Once your children have made the connection they were missing before, look back and see what methods helped them find it. Did a graphic organizer help them understand what a verb does? Or did using a word web help them brainstorm for a writing project? Teach them to look for those methods and apply them the next time they don’t understand a new concept.

Scaffolding isn’t a list of tools to use all the time. It’s a process for reaching the specific goal of making sure your children can learn independently. BJU Press Teacher’s Editions are full of resources that can help you scaffold your children’s learning.

Check out our TEs for science or English for some extra resources that will help your children become independent learners!


Oftentimes we describe our misdeeds as thoughtless. But that may be the wrong word. The person who is accused of it is—in fact—thinking but generally only about himself. Even if we are acting out of habit, at some point thinking factors in to all our deeds—good or bad. We often hear the Christian admonished to guard his thought life, lest he buckle in the face of temptation. But thinking is also looked at in a positive light in the verses below. The Christian who keeps his heart and mind through Christ Jesus will exude His gracious spirit.

cover image of Wonderful Words

“For I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me” (Psalm 40:17). “We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple” (Psalm 48:9). “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). “[Love] doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:5). “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory” (Ephesians 3:20–21). “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

GOLDEN THOUGHT: The Lord thinks upon me.

[Excerpt adapted from Wonderful Words by Stewart Custer (November 30 reading).]

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