22 Apr Encouraging Independence at a Young Age
Early childhood is a crucial period to develop characteristics and skills and shape an individual’s identity. As parents, we want to make sure we instill ethical morals and values into our children while they are young. The classroom community is a perfect place to start with encouraging independence and self-awareness.
By promoting independence in our children, we let them know we trust them to make their own decisions and value their thoughts and opinions. At Meadow Montessori, we offer programs centered around developing well-rounded individuals at a young age.
Solid parenting combined with your child’s Montessori learnings, we can ensure that their developmental needs are met. We want to share these methods of promoting independence with you so that you can encourage them at home or any location outside of the classroom. Contact Meadow Montessori today to learn more.
Cleaning Up After Themselves
Children are often much more capable than we realize, and we fail to acknowledge their capabilities by completing tasks for them.
One method to encourage independence at a young age is allowing children to clean up after themselves. It can be challenging to encourage older children to clean up after themselves ‒ especially if they are already accustomed to their parents constantly cleaning up after them.
When your child is young, give them incentive to complete household tasks or clean up after themselves. Your child will be more motivated to do so if they know they can play outside or do something they enjoy after they clean up after themselves.
This will also help them transition in the Montessori classroom. In our classrooms here at Meadow Montessori, our students know they have to restore their work on the shelves before they can choose a new one.
Here are other tasks you can assign to your child to encourage their independence:
- Putting away toys
- Placing dirty clothes in the hamper
- Throwing away trash
- Wiping up spills
- Clearing their plate after dinner
- Making their bed
By trusting your child with household tasks, you are showing them you believe in their capabilities, allowing them to build confidence in themselves.
Making Decisions & Dealing With Consequences
Independence does not just form overnight; it takes time to cultivate and can even take an entire lifetime.
However, independence starts with making one’s own decisions and being able to deal with the consequences, good or bad. We can only hold our children’s hands for so long, but there comes a point when they must deal with repercussions on their own.
If a child decides to miss a homework assignment or not study for a test, some parents may get it done for them to avoid seeing their child fail. However, allowing the child to deal with the consequences shows them that they are their own person and what they do or how they handle situations matters. If they experience the terrible outcome of their poor decision, it will only encourage them to make a better choice next time.
Luckily, we can teach our children how to make healthy decisions early in their day-to-day. By giving them choices and asking the following types of questions, you can encourage them to make decisions and learn from them:
- What would you like for a snack? An apple or chips?
- When are you going to clean your room? After dinner or before?
- Do you want water or juice?
- When are you going to finish your summer reading?
- Are your clothes in the hamper?
Giving your child the choice of a healthy snack or junk food, procrastination or productivity, is a way to let them choose what type of person they want to be. You don’t have to scold your child if they make the undesirable choice ‒ but you can open up the conversation to them and point them in the better direction.
Personal Care & Hygiene
As a parent, we must bathe, dress, and maintain our children’s hygiene when they are babies. However, there comes a time when they can handle their personal care and hygiene themselves.
Maintaining personal hygiene can keep children healthy, prevent illness, and build self-confidence. But it also allows your child the opportunity to discover that they have the tools and independence to do so.
Some ways you can encourage your child to practice self-care and personal hygiene include:
- Set a bedtime routine including bathing, brushing teeth, etc.
- Washing hands after each meal
- Brushing or styling their hair
- Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
- Blowing their nose, not picking it
Of course, while your child is learning, you can help them discover which methods are best under your supervision. You can encourage them to sing through the entire alphabet when washing their hands or hum “happy birthday” while brushing their teeth.
As your child gets older, allow them to watch you ‒ the parent ‒ practice healthy habits, like reading before bed instead of watching television, trimming your nails, or eating sweets in moderation.
Self-Help Skills & Judgement
Children get excited to try new tasks and activities because it makes them feel like grown-ups. Allowing your child to help themselves and use their best judgement is a great way to nurture their independence.
For example, by dressing themselves or setting the family dinner table, your child will develop a sense of confidence in their capabilities. They will realize they can do a majority of things independently, without help from others.
Step by step, your child will follow your lead in performing different tasks and eventually become comfortable mimicking that task without you around.
You can help your child learn how to help themselves by:
- Zipping up their coat after watching you do it
- Learning how to put dishes or books away
- Tying their shoes
- Putting on a shirt
- Coloring inside the lines
For a child to master a procedure, it is essential to have patience with them, and independence will come with time. If your child struggles or gets upset when trying to perform a task, guide them, talk them through it, and assure them that it’s a learning process. Your child may take comfort knowing that you struggled with similar tasks when you were younger, too.
Reinforce Independence At Home
Independence is a core value in Montessori education. However, there is only so much we can do through Montessori schooling. A child’s true independence will blossom in the home environment.
Here at Meadow Montessori, nurturing independence is a crucial component in our classrooms. For more information or to schedule a tour of our school, please contact us today.