Quite often parents will ask me what they can do at home to help prepare their child for school. One suggestion I always mention is to have their child begin to help out at home and do more things on their own. At home, children can start by cleaning up after themselves. If they take something out, they can put it away right after they are done using it. I know as a parent and teacher, I have found myself often putting away items I never used myself. Even if it is easier for you to pick up the mess, it is better for children to learn this responsibility. Children can also help out with many household chores. Some suggestions are:
- Folding small washcloths and towels when doing laundry.
- Helping with setting the table for meals.
- Helping with making their beds.
- Cleaning up their place setting after a meal.
- Helping with pets such as feeding them.
- Getting a child-size broom or shovel so they can help with sweeping and shoveling.
- Pour their own water for drinking while using child-size pitchers and cups.
- Helping with putting away groceries or dishes.
- Washing dishes (it is fun to wash by hand from time-to-time even though you may have a dishwasher and children will better understand the concept of how things get from dirty to clean).
Not only is it valuable to show children how to take care of their environment, it is equally as important to inform children as to how they can take care of themselves. Taking care of themselves not only will help them to achieve independence, but helps to develop self-confidence and pride. It is helpful for children to practice getting ready in the morning from getting dressed, helping to pick out their own clothes, and brushing their hair and teeth. They may still need some assistance from an adult, but giving them the opportunities to practice and try it on their own will help them to become self-sufficient.
Some basic self-help skills are:
- Carrying their backpack/book bag to school.
- Washing their hands before meals or after using the bathroom.
- Wiping their nose and washing their hands after.
- Practicing with putting on their winter outdoor gear from snow pants, boots, to jackets.
- Practicing with buttons and zippers.
- Putting on their shoes and clothes.
- Taking care of their own personal hygiene needs from combing their hair to washing their face.
I read a quote once that I often refer to as a teacher and mother, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed” by Dr. Maria Montessori. The key is showing children age-appropriate responsibilities for the environment and themselves by introducing new skills as they develop. A great resource is an article titled, Teaching Your Child to Become Independent with Daily Routines, gives many suggestions and helpful tools in self-help skills for children. You can download it at:
What are some things you do at home to encourage your child’s independence?