Early Childhood

Tuesday Tip - Developing Independence in Young Children

Presented here is a brief article by Child Mind Institute. I have integrated “Concordia Connections” throughout the article. These brief inserts are ways Concordia intentionally integrates best-practices and research-based strategies to help our young students THRIVE!

Young children love to do things for themselves — even when it makes life harder for their parents. Here are some tips to help your preschooler build independence, while keeping your own frustration to a minimum.

Concordia Connection: The first thing our EC students are responsible for doing on their own is washing their hands and carrying their own backpack into school. Then, they are responsible for putting their personal belongings (backpack and food) into their cubbies, checking into class, and making their start-up activity choices.

Learning to follow routines is one way for little kids to become more independent. Like coming home from school: jacket off, then shoes, hang up backpack, wash hands. Let kids start to do parts of the routine by themselves, like unzipping their coat. Eventually, they’ll be able to do the whole routine alone.

Concordia Connection: Every classroom begins with an important morning routine, which includes listening and speaking about the calendar, numbers, patterns, weather and more! Every teacher starts their day reviewing the schedule. Our learners know each day’s routine. This reduces their worries about the upcoming day and builds their confidence in knowing what’s ahead.

It might be faster in the moment for you to take your child’s shoes off, but give them time to figure it out and they’ll soon do it themselves. When you step back, kids learn how to power through frustration. Assigning chores is another great way to build kids’ independence. Start with something simple, like putting clothes in the laundry bin.

Concordia Connection: Multiple times throughout your child’s day in school, they are responsible for helping with classroom clean-up. We set music to the clean-up time and off they go, happy and helpful! We are proud of how well our students enjoy feeding themselves, cleaning up their areas, putting on their shoes, getting supplies and more! Everyone gets the chance to shine!

Sure, we could do it faster if we just did it all, but we want our students to develop in this area! We step back and let them enjoy their chance to be BIG!

Another way to build confidence is by giving your child choices. For example, if your child wants to cross the street by themselves, you might give them a choice instead: “Do you want to hold my hand or be carried?”

Concordia Connection: Choices are made by our students all day long! They chose which center to engage in, which book to read, what they want to draw, color or write, where to play outdoors, which friends to play with and on and on and on! Having choice always leads to increased interest in those “guiding questions and conversations” the teachers have with them once they’re engaged. It’s amazing to listen and observe so many opportunities to develop thinking skills, communication skills and cooperation.

Playtime is another chance for kids to take the lead. Projects, like puzzles or crafts, are a great way for kids to learn to focus on one thing for a long time. Free play is also a chance for kids to learn creativity and problem solving. Give your child some crayons or blocks and let them come up with their own activity.

Concordia Connection: At Concordia, we are blessed with countless hands-on learning manipulatives! Every child, every day has ample opportunities to create, design, play, build, pretend, and problem solve! Every activity is set up with a learning purpose in mind. Their engagement in these projects open up communication, cooperation, imagination, thinking, solving, and so much more!  

Let your child know you see them learning and growing too! Play along by doing what they’re doing, or describe what they’re up to so they know you’re watching. And cheer them on when they do things by themselves.