Welcome to week 2 of Get Ready for K Through Play, a series I am doing with some of my favorite bloggers that will help you prepare your child to start Kindergarten. Last week I talked about how parents can Help Kids Deal with Hurtful Comments. This week, we are sharing ways to encourage Independence Skills in kids. Last year I shared about Practicing Independence Skills. This year, I will be focusing on making Transitions to Independence for Kids. I will share five areas where you can transition your child to greater independence. Be sure to also check out 5 Ways to Build Your Kid’s Self Esteem.
If your child is starting Kindergarten this year, you might be feeling some pressure to help them become more independent before school starts. In my experience however, independence comes in baby steps. You don’t have to make these independence milestones happen in one big step. Behaviors changes are more likely to be effective if you give kids small steps to transition them into more independent behavior.
I am not sure where you are in your tooth brushing routine. Some people have had their kids brushing their own teeth since they were toddlers, while other (like us) have not. Our dentist recommended that we brush our kids teeth to make sure a through job is done. So up until very recently, we have been doing all the tooth brushing. We really want the kids to be more independent though. So we have starting letting them brush their teeth in the morning and handling the evening tooth brushing ourselves until they get the hang of it.
Since getting ready for school in the morning can be stressful, we have always had breakfast ready to go for the kids when they wake up. However, I have been wanting to give their kids more control in different areas, so we started letting kids choose their own breakfast some days. Cereal is great for a choose your own breakfast day since it is quick. Of course there are days when I still make breakfast such as pancakes or eggs for the entire family. But on many school days, we are letting the kids pick and pour their own cereal. Soon we will add milk pouring to the routine.
Do your kids pick their own clothes or do you pick clothes for them? I still pick out clothes for my kids a few days a week. The reason I do this is that my kids have a lot of clothes. They get clothes from family and friends for holidays and birthdays. When they pick their own clothes they tend to pick the same few outfits over and over again. So I pick a few days a week to make sure other clothes get worn and things don’t get worn out as quickly.
We usually pick clothes the night before to simplify our morning routine. We will check the next day’s weather on my phone and the kids will think about what would be best to wear in that weather. This has really helped them develop their critical thinking skills as well as independence. I am always impressed that they are able to pick the perfect clothes for the weather.
My kids help with cleaning up their toys. They don’t do so without reminders, and they often don’t clean up in the same way I do. In the past, their idea of cleaning up their toys was to just put everything that was on the floor on to a surface. In an effort to make clean up easier for them, I started labeling bins, baskets and shelves in our playroom. Even if a child is not reading yet, they can learn to recognize the words on the labels by looking at the stuff in the basket when the playroom is tidy. You would be surprised at how quickly non-readers can pick up on “reading” the labels and putting things where they belong.
As kids get older, bath time can become more independent. Our kids get a bath sponge and body wash and wash themselves in the tub. I just help with the hair washing which can still be tricky at this age. My kids want to be independent and love the chance to lather up and wash themselves. They are also responsible for drying themselves and getting pajamas on after their bath.
These seemingly small steps will help your child transition to the independence they will need in Kindergarten. They will feel good about themselves as they accomplish these tasks and they will be ready for increased responsibility.
Be sure to visit the following bloggers and check out their Independence Skills posts:
Practicing Organization Skills from The Pleasantest Thing
Nurture Independence from Mama Smiles
Foster a Child’s Independence with Chores at Home from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
Teach Independent Skills for Kindergarten from Coffee Cups and Crayons
Preparing for School – Inside Out, Back to Front, Wrong Foot! from Rainy Day Mum