What is on your learning list right now?

What is On Your Learning List Right Now?

As a life-long, self-directed learner, I grew up researching materials and information that I can combine, sum up, and process to solve problems – or do what I want to do.

Most of the time, we look for something unusual and exciting. We explore and discover, and eventually lead us to something new. Then we move on and do it all over again. 

Have you noticed that learning doesn’t happen per subject? But we process information from various sources all around us. One experience after another leads to self-discovery, growth, and evolution.

Recently, the pandemic has caused parents and families to look closely into various options such as homeschooling and distance learning. But wait. What is the difference?

I view homeschooling as an individualized learning plan. For me, there is a time for a parent-led program and a time for self-directed learning.

Although we allow our babies and little ones to explore, they still need supervision to keep them safe. So, it makes sense to have a parent-led homeschooling program when they are still young.

Then, we slowly transition from parent-led to parent-guided and eventually entirely self-directed (learner-led), depending on the child’s developmental growth and other learning needs and abilities.

In the real-life working world, people receive generous compensation because of their ability to simplify what is complicated. So, while in the learning stages, it doesn’t make sense to complicate something simple to assess if a child is applying critical thinking. We must model how to keep things simple.

As parents, we help our children become independent by modeling self-directed learning. We share principles and concepts, but not too much information or excessive content. Ultimately, we only tend to remember what is meaningful and purposeful to us. 

Traditional Schools

Now, when we send our children to schools. We try to fit them in a one-size-fits-all program. If a child is too unique, we seek accommodations or assistance to better adapt him or her to the program.

The problem is when some children start to notice that they are too different and may feel inadequate. How will this impact their self-confidence?

For some parents, the current educational program may not be what they have in mind. So, one of the reasons why parents homeschool is to come up with an individualized learning plan. Usually, this is a parent-led and home-based program. Parents know what’s a good fit for their child.

Understanding their children is what drives the selection of materials or curricula. They can create learning materials or obtain ones that they can modify. It’s similar to sewing clothes to be a perfect fit; or buying ready-made garments that they can adjust if they have to.

Homeschooling and Distance Learning

So, what about the difference between homeschooling and a distance learning program?

As mentioned earlier, I view homeschooling as individualized learning, while distance learning is still very close to the one-size-fits-all program offered by most schools.

Only that, distance learning is remote or virtual. It is not parent-led and not learner-centered. It is program/subject-centered, highly structured, but somewhat more flexible as long as it is asynchronous.  

If the only option is to attend “live” online classes, such format can be challenging because of various distractions. Also, it is not as flexible as compared to allowing access to recorded classes.

Let’s keep in mind that most schools’ distance learning models may be ideal if the student is heading back to the traditional school setting after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, I think it’s essential to pay attention to possible challenges encountered by some students with this model. Some may like it better, while some may get bored or easily distracted.

For most families, homeschooling is usually parent-led. But some homeschoolers are more self-directed or self-led. Others refer to such informal learning as unschooling. Not to mention, some schools offer a self-directed approach to education, and they are commonly called democratic schools.

However, My Learning List emphasizes the words “individualized” and “self-directed” because we value learner autonomy. At the same time, we encourage parents to be highly involved in facilitating their child’s learning. Thus, we help families by providing assistance and information about opportunities and resources for learners to explore and expand their interests.

If you are a homeschooling family, is your program predominantly parent-led or self-directed? Or is it somewhere in the middle – self-directed, and parent-guided? 

Whichever you prefer or have it set up, My Learning List believes that an individualized and self-directed approach to learning helps in the natural development of skills and abilities. Most importantly, it promotes self-confidence and self-esteem.

The key nutrients to self-directed learning behavior


Daniel H. Pink, “Chapter 3 Type I and Type X,” in Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us (New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 2009), p. 77. Kindle.

One of the key takeaways from Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive is that the key nutrients to self-directed learning behavior are autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

When we have the freedom to choose what to learn, we tend to progress or improve and do better at what we do. Then eventually, we discover a purpose for it. Pink referred to a type I behavior called self-directed.

Self directed “…It is devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters. And it connects that quest for excellence to a larger purpose.”  – (Pink 2009, 77)

For instance, remember something you learned on your own. Yes, something you learned because you want to. And you looked for resources, information, or materials until you know what to do. And eventually, you feel so good and proud of what you have accomplished.

Outside school and after you finished attending school, you always have a learning list. You learned to cook, play sports, arts & crafts. You may be singing, dancing, painting, or writing a story. So, you have an idea about having a learning list. I’m sure there is something you find worth exploring right now.

Overall, we can help our children by understanding what they want to learn (without any judgment) and providing them the resources they need in the best way we can. And finally, as you ponder something you want to learn at this point, what do you think is on your kiddos’ learning list right now?

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