School readiness is more about providing opportunities for your child to grow in independence and confidence than preparing them for the academic aspects of school. By doing all the things for our children, we are teaching them to rely on us, and they are missing out on developing crucial skills such as problem-solving or risk-taking. Today I would like to share six ways to nurture and build independence in your school starter!
1. Give your little one a choice and encourage them to decide independently.
Free up some of your mental space and invite your little one to help make decisions. Start with simple things like giving your child a choice between which snack to eat first or which colour leggings to wear today. You can also ask them to decide based on their interests, such as asking them what they would like to do – “After kinder would you like to go to the playground or a bike ride?”. Empowering your child to make their own decisions is a powerful way to nurture independence and confidence.
2. Encourage your child to clean up their toys.
Setting your child up for success when it comes to giving them responsibility for tidying up their toys is crucial. It is essential to design your play space to be child friendly. For example, placing toys on a shelf or having them in labelled tubs will ensure your child knows where their toys belong when it is time to clean up. Giving your child plenty of notice for when to start packing up their toys and modelling will also help build routine and boundaries, which are essential for building independence.
3. Include your school starter in household jobs.
Yes, it will take a little longer, but I can assure you the benefits outweigh the extra time. Start with simple tasks such as helping put the placemats, forks, and knives on the table to helping with cleaning and doing the washing. My daughter Lola is fourteen months old and loves to put the dirty washing in the washing machine, one item at a time. I must make sure I factor in extra time when doing the laundry. However, her knowing that she is a valued member of our family and that we all help with the upkeep of our home is more important than the extra time I gain if I had done it all myself.
4. Always praise first!
Whenever your child does something on their own, praise, praise, PRAISE!! They put their shoes on by themselves, praise them until the cows come home and don’t point out that they have put them on the wrong feet! Part of building independence is also allowing children to problem solve. They will quickly notice that something doesn’t feel right when they start walking, and you can then help guide them in swapping the shoes over! There is nothing better than when a child is walking around with their jumper inside out or a big toothpaste stain on their top – because at least they did it on their own! We all start somewhere, and it is essential to praise the journey!
5. Give your child space and time to have a go.
With all the above suggestions, building independence in your school starter is time-consuming and can be a little frustrating because you know that you can do it quicker and more efficiently. However, as I said above, we all start somewhere! Giving your child extra space and time will help them feel supported in having a go. Factor in the additional ten minutes into your morning routine to allow your child to dress themselves and put on their shoes. As with anything, practice makes progress!
The key to school readiness is building your little one’s confidence and independence! The tips I share above will help develop a sense of self-belief in your school starter as they prepare for the big day! If you are looking for more ways to build independence in your school starter, please join our email list to receive updates and a Starting School Bingo Board at the start of every month! It is packed full of small tasks that build independence and confidence!
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