How To Encourage Independence + Clear Signs Your Child Is Learning It

  • Editor’s note: Your kids are not likely to go to school physically anytime soon because of COVID-19. But it doesn’t mean a school is out of the question. You will find options on homeschoolblended learning, and distance education on Smart Parenting Classroom. But is your child ready for preschool?

    School readiness very much applies even in a remote setup. And with the global health crisis, parents need to take an even more active role in assessing their child and his learning skills. It is up to us to make sure that when they do finally go out, they do so with confidence and self-reliance. After all, independence is a clear sign of school readiness.

    Independence means children should have some self-help skills and the ability to care for themselves and their personal belongings. Being able to take care of oneself will give children confidence and give parents less to worry about.

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    What are the signs of independence 

    Does your child…

    • verbalize his need to use the toilet?
    • go to the toilet with some independence?
    • wash hands before and after eating?
    • do simple household chores?
    • pack away toys?
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    How kids learn independence

    Dr. Kyle Pruett, a clinical professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, wrote in Psychology Today, some tasks children can help with that encourage independence.

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    Three-year-olds learn independence if they can…

    • dress themselves (with some supervision)
    • help set and clear the table
    • stow the toys after play and the clothes after wearing
    • wash their hands and face
    • brush their teeth 

    Five-year-olds learn independence if they can…

    • pick out their clothes (and later get them to the laundry)
    • brush or comb their hair
    • handle simple chores like dusting and filling pet food dishes
    • memorize their contact info and make an urgent phone call
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    How you can encourage independence

    It helps to make these tasks routine and reinforce them with humor. By encouraging children to be responsible and independent at home, parents teach children how to get ready for school but are equipping them with essential life skills as well.

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    1. Teach the kids simple chores at home. 
    2. Label items that belong to the child.
    3. Use clothes that are easy to manage (for example those with velcro straps)
    4. Give food in small portions so it’s easy to eat.
    5. Help your child gain confidence by talking about things they can do for themselves.

    Read here how fine motor skills can help your child become more independent in daily tasks.

    Barbara Server-Veloso is known as Teacher Thumby in her preschool, Toddlers Unlimited, and Ms. Thumby in her grade school, Thinkers Unlimited, Alabang. She is also a partner in Spark Discovery Center in Jupiter Street, Makati where she teaches the Baby and Me Class. Teacher Thumby has a Masters degree from the University of the Philippines in Family Life and Child Development. She has been teaching since 1993. She is also the mother of Lucas and Verena.

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