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Teaching new Skills and Fostering Independence

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Is kindergarten just around the corner for your child? If so, you’re probably starting to wonder how best to prepare for this exciting transition. Kindergarten is a big milestone in a child’s life. It is their first experience in an all-day classroom and a place where they learn important new skills like reading and math.

However, kindergarten teaches other things in addition to your typical classroom subjects. For many children, kindergarten is their first experience being without their parents or one-on-one caregivers. This means children need to develop independence if they are to grow and excel. That nurturance of independence begins before your child even sets foot in a classroom. Allison Pepper’s Kick-Start Kindergarten Readiness provides some tips on how to help foster independence in your child through simple activities at home!

Doing Household Chores Together

Children already love to imitate their parents’ daily routines. Try inviting you child to participate in the household chores. You can break the chores down into smaller, more manageable parts that will be easy for your child to follow. Make a habit of child-relevant chores like cleaning up the toys or doing the dishes, and soon your child will be able to do them on his own!

What to Do:

  1. Think of some household tasks in which you can cooperatively engage your child. Consider, for example, sweeping the kitchen floor
  2. Ask your child to help you. Show him how to hold the broom and how to move it across the floor to gather up the dirt
  3. As you work together, talk about what you are doing. For example, use position words such as under, behind, and over, e.g. “Dirt likes to hide under this rug. Let’s sweep under it.”
  4. Be sure to compliment your child on working so hard and helping out around the house

Self-Help Tasks

There are dozens of little things we do every day that young children need to learn. Things as simple as using a spoon, zipping a jacket, or tying some shoes are skills that need to be mastered as we gain our independence. If your child struggles with a simple task, you can determine ways to work with her and teach her ways to master that task. With every skill she acquires, she’ll be more ready to make the journey into kindergarten!

What to Do:

  1. Observe your child in the following tasks

    Eating: Can she eat independently? Can she carry her plate to the sink?
    Dressing: Can your child dress herself? Can she put on her shoes? Can she put on her coat, mittens, hat, etc.?
    Personal hygiene: Is your child independent in the bathroom? Does she wash her hands independently?

  2. After observing your child, create a mental list of areas in which she needs assistance with these daily tasks
  3. Help your child become independent in these self-help areas. Be specific in giving instructions. Encourage your child when she is having difficulty, and praise her successes. Be patient!

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