Practical Ways to Teach Independence
Small steps towards independence can be taken at an early age to help promote confidence and self-determination. Here are some ways you can encourage independence with care of self and care of environment.
Getting dressed. Give your child the opportunity to select their own outfit by providing two to three appropriate choices. Provide your child with extra time needed to dress himself, including shoes and jacket. An easy trick for teaching him how to put on a jacket is the jacket flip. Lay the jacket on the floor with the tag facing the ceiling and have your child stand near the collar. The child bends over and puts his arms in the jacket and then flips the jacket over his head.
Personal hygiene. Provide step stools and low towel racks in the bathroom so your child can independently wash and dry her hands. Place a box of tissues near a low hanging mirror where she can practice cleaning her nose during the colder winter months.
Care of environment. Store child-friendly placemats, dishes, cups and silverware in low drawers so your child can help set the table before dinner. Have small dust pans and washclothes available for your child to clean up his own spills, and teach him how to sort and fold laundry.
Clean up. Store all toys in a basket on low, open shelves. Offer a smaller selection of toys and trade them out as needed. Encourage your child to use only one toy at a time. Once she is done with a particular toy, she must clean up all the pieces and return them to the shelf before choosing another activity.
Amber Melnyk is a teacher at Charlotte Montessori School