As parents, we understand the importance of cultivating independence in our children. Read on for some expert tips on how to encourage kids to be independent!
“I want to do it myself.”
Sounds like something your little one says? It’s a sign of them developing independence naturally at their young age. This is an important life skill: not just because it promotes self-reliance at an early age, but also because independence is directly linked to positive well-being, identity, and self-esteem.
Needless to say, it’s a life skill that we as parents should nurture and encourage in our children. How can we help children develop their sense of independence further? Kimberly McMahon, educator and Year Leader for Nexus International School’s (Singapore) Nursery and Kindergarten, shares her top tips with us.
How to cultivate independence in young children
1. Allow your child to take ownership of tasks
We know it can be tough to fight the urge to help, but sometimes we need to take a step back and let our children do things on their own. This especially applies to tasks that your child is capable of doing by themselves. “It’s good for young children to complete age-appropriate tasks, like putting on socks and shoes, carrying a bag, and managing their belongings. In fact, that’s what all Nexus Nursery and Kindergarten learners do at school,” Kimberly shares.
2. Make time for them to be independent
Building on the previous point, we should also allocate time for our children to complete tasks by themselves. Kimberly points out that despite their young age, children are actually very capable of doing things independently. They are also very curious to find out how things are done. Make sure to take time to show them the how-tos, and allow them to try it themselves. She elaborates, “Children will usually take longer time without the help of an adult, so it’s important to factor in extra time into daily routines. As adults, we can positively model, support, and encourage children as they learn.”
3. Allow your child to make some choices
Don’t underestimate the power of letting your children choose – it can be incredibly empowering for them to take ownership. You can start with age-appropriate decisions like allowing them to choose what clothes to wear, what snacks to have, or which stories to read. “This leads to an increased desire to become independent, while not overwhelming them with too many choices,” Kimberly says.
Pro-tip: Kimberly suggests trying: “Would you like to brush your teeth before the story, or after the story?”
4. Establish routines
It’s a good idea to establish routines for your children as it provides a sense of comfort and security in their world. Kimberly shares that teachers at Nexus’ Nursery and Kindergarten use songs to remind learners of the routines in their day. “For example, there’s a song for tidying up, a song for lining up, as well as a good morning and goodbye song. These familiar routines support the development of learner agency and ownership in children’s environment and learning,” she says.
5. Don’t forget to praise them!
It is so important to celebrate all attempts of independence, no matter how big or small they are. Kimberly explains, “Positive reinforcement motivates children to develop a healthy growth mindset where they want to keep trying without giving up.” If we as adults feel happy when we’re being praised, imagine how happy our children are when they receive the same.
More about Nexus’ Early Years Programme
Educators at Nexus understand that the Early Years is the formative period that shapes the foundation of a child’s behaviours and habits. As such, Nexus’ Nursery and Kindergartens encourages its young learners to continue developing independence through age-appropriate tasks. “When children experience success while engaging in their tasks, they feel a sense of achievement which boosts their self-worth. This helps them realise that they’re capable of accomplishing much by themselves,” Kimberly says.
You can find out more about Nexus’ Early Years Programme at its upcoming Early Years Open Days on 30 September and 28 October 2023. Bring your child along so they can experience what learning is like at Nexus, and check out its engaging learning spaces.
Families who are already part of the Nexus Community can also sign up for the school’s Nex Generation Playgroup, which takes place every Friday from 8:30am to 10:30am. The Playgroup is led by one of the school’s Early Years Teachers, Karen Orlowski, with activities such as singing, circle time, and hands-on learning through purposefully set-up activities. Plus, you’ll get to meet other members of the Nexus Community!
This post is in partnership with Nexus International School (Singapore).