HOW TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE IN YOUR CHILD
I’ve spent years watching kindergarten students acclimate to the classroom. Some students set themselves apart from their peers immediately:
- they are very verbal
- they can already read or demonstrate strong foundational literacy skills
- they have great drawing or writing skills
But then—there are the little kids who have more common sense, can problem solve, and are very self-sufficient in the classroom.
Quite often, these students are some of the most successful learners!
What sets self-sufficient students apart from the rest?
- They don’t wait for an adult to help them
- They are more confident in trying things themselves
- They are not afraid to take responsibility for getting a job done
- They may not have the answer to every academic question but they are the first to volunteer for anything
The benefits of building confidence in a young child
- These confident kids know where to find supplies in the classroom.
- They make great messengers and peer buddies for less confident kiddos.
- They’re not afraid to take a risk or try something new.
As classroom learners, these are great skills to possess at a young age. Independence and confidence will help young kids excel as students.
Even toddlers love to “help” mom or dad. Let them! By giving them small jobs at an early age, you are setting them up for a bright future as independent preschoolers.
HOW TO PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE IN YOUR CHILD
Do a little less FOR them. This will help your child learn to do more on their own.
1. Give up Control of the Schoolbag: When a child packs his or her own school bag, they know what’s there and what to give to the teacher. Rather than emptying and filling a child’s folder for them, let them take ownership. In preschool, they barely have anything in there. Tell them about the permission slip or notebook so they become responsible to give it to their teacher. Then, let them be in charge of it. This means wearing it or carrying it, too. *If the backpack is too big for them to do it by themselves, it’s too big!
“Let’s face it, it’s faster and easier to do certain things FOR your children.”
But truthfully, you are doing them a disservice. If you do too much for your child and make everything “easy” for them, you may be creating a more dependent child. Plus, this makes more work for you!
2. Resist the Urge to Get Your Kid Dressed: If a child is able to perform a dressing task, they should be doing it every day! Life gets hectic, of course. But, try to give your child enough time in the morning to do the parts that they can. Rushing through the task of getting dressed doesn’t help you in the long run. Again, it keeps this chore on your never-ending list of morning to-dos!
Think about it:
Aren’t you tired? Why are you creating a cycle where you are doing more than you need to? Back off, Momma! It’s ok!
3. Doing Homework: If kids can do homework themselves, let them! Before you explain what to do, ask your child to explain, to you, what needs to be done on the page. This improves their language and thinking skills at the same time. If they know what to do, let them work independently! If your child needs guidance, only help with the first few questions. Then, back away and let them try on their own. Only give help when it is truly needed.
3. Checking Homework: Let your kids do the first part of the page on their own and see if they are doing it correctly. If they need some help, give it, but don’t help too much. I don’t want to take away my kids’ thinking time. Kids need more time than we do to think about the answers.
If an answer is wrong, don’t tell them the right answer! This takes away a great problem-solving opportunity. Instead, say, “look at #3 again” or “read this question over one more time.” Give your child the chance to decide what was wrong, why it is wrong, and how to get the correct answer. This is where the real thinking, learning, and carry-over to other problems happen.
GET THEM STARTED EARLY. THEY CAN PACK SNACK AS A TODDLER!
4. Lunch box: Teach your child the best way to pack their own lunch box! Let them choose their own snack (from approved choices).
They don’t need to make their own lunch yet. Just let them learn how to pack it. This teaches children to be responsible, manage their time in the morning, and hopefully make good food choices.
Plus, it sets them up for the future of making their own lunch, taking yet ANOTHER chore away from you…
ASK THEM INSTEAD OF TELLING THEM
5. Being prepared for preschool: Rather than saying, today is Tuesday, you need to remember your “Show and Tell”. Slowly shift the remembering and responsibility to your child. Ask him, What day is it? What do you need to remember on Tuesdays? This small change helps your child learn to think and plan ahead.
When you spend your career studying 5-year-olds, these subtle differences are noticeable even in kindergarten! Sometimes birth order plays a part in this; but not always. I’ve seen this capable confidence in firstborns, last borns, and only children.
My belief is that it has more to do with parenting styles than other factors.
DO LESS, Mom and Dad!
Try to do a little less for your toddler or preschooler so he or she learns to do more on their own. When children can think and problem-solve, it helps them to be more confident and independent.
About the Author:
Gloria is a Juggling Teacher and Mother of four, with a primary focus in Special Education, Technology and Early Childhood Education. She has over 30 years of classroom experience and strives to incorporate the SmartBoard, iPad, and all available technology into her lessons. Most important of all, she wants her students to have fun while they are learning.
After many wonderful years in the classroom, Gloria is now beginning her second career. Her new activities include working as a Pre-School Educational Technology Teacher and Itinerant Teacher for Special needs students and their families. Gloria also creates products for her TeachersPayTeachers store and writes. Her favorite pastimes include Paddle Boarding, yoga, and reading at the beach!