Building Independence is Key - Helping Kids Flourish in Kindergarten and Beyond
Helping Kids Flourish in Kindergarten and Beyond
 
Sometimes it's very easy to underestimate the capabilities of young children. I am guilty of occasionally opening something when a child asks instead of scaffolding or supporting their ability to perform the task. When I can, I try to show kids where to place their hands, show them the pulling motion, and watch in delight as their face glows in pride as they perform a task they didn't think they could do.
  When children come to school, we put them in many situations that require independence, and actually, at their stage of development, they crave it! With first grade on the horizon, it seems a good time to talk about some simple ways to build independence and efficacy in your child. 
One easy way to help your child overcome hurdles to independence is to help your child with the first part of a task only to the point where they can continue on their own. For example, if a child is trying to write a new word, play a game where you both pretend you are pulling something stretchy like gum, out of your mouth. If your child can isolate the first sound and identify it, great. If not, give a few choices before you say the answer. Some kids expect that we will just give the answer because, in trying to be helpful, we have given them answers before.  It might sound a bit harsh to deny help right away, but as long as kids expect adults to "do for them" they are not getting the opportunity to build confidence and efficacy.
Another way you can help is at school. If you are a parent helper or just helping your child get started on morning work, ask your child how he/she can figure out what to do before asking for help. Morning work is usually at a level where independent work is possible, so with a little bit of focus, your child should be able to decide where to start. We encourage kids to ask questions if they are not sure, of course, but we also try to build their "thinking skills" by trying to figure out the task first. As kids do their morning work, we walk around and check for understanding. We offer help when needed and try not to get in the way of kids building their independence and efficacy.
Finally, give your child an opportunity to help with jobs and chores at home. In our classroom, every child has a job every day. They LOVE to do their jobs and get upset when a day passes and they didn't get a chance to do their jobs. Give kids jobs and praise them for their hard work and dedication to completing the task well.
We want our students to leave our classroom knowing that they are capable of anything they set their minds to. "How" we offer help greatly impacts their confidence and independence. 




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