“Independence is an ongoing and organic process. As a child learns to pour water, put on his/her shoes, or clean his/her workspace, he or she becomes a more confident, independent individual which will lead to ongoing benefits throughout life.” – Dr. Maria Montessori
A lot of parents are amazed at what their children can do in school. At House On The Hill, our children have the freedom to follow their instincts and choose the activities that call to them, developing their independence.
Having seen how they are in school, some parents have asked me “why is my child not doing things on her/his own at home?”, “how do I let my child be a little more independent at home?”, “why is my child not doing anything by him/herself at home?”, or “they are always making a mess when they do things on their own”.
Baby steps need to be taken to foster independence in children. The Montessori Method promotes independence by giving a child the ability to make their own choices, providing gentle guidance and allowing them to learn at their own pace.
To share my personal experience; I’m a parent to 2 girls. I started with simple tasks in their daily routine at home to encourage independence, such as putting their clothes away in the laundry basket, wiping their eating mat after mealtime, putting their shoes away, packing up their toys after playtime, self–feeding during mealtime…etc. It took some time, and mess (part of the learning process) for them to be confident enough to tell me that “I can do it”.
Once they were comfortable with these simple tasks at home, they started to approach me to help out with my chores. I realised that they wanted to learn how to complete more challenging tasks. So I began to let them help out by completing tasks like making their beds after waking up, folding and keeping the laundry away, sweeping their bedroom etc.
Most of the time, my first child finds joy in doing all these by herself and often comes to me to say “Can I help you a little more?” with a cheeky smile. My younger one looks up to her sister and will follow what her elder sister does at home. Getting them involved in chores also allows me to have a little bonding session!
I believe that encouraging independence in children can start from a very young age, it helps them to be confident and makes them happy when they can do things on their own. Also, an independent child means that you have fewer tasks on your plate!
Here are some tried-and-tested recommendations from me to nurture independence at home, based on my personal experience:
Tips for fostering independence at home:
- Learn to let go (trust your child!)
The first step in getting your children to be more independent is for you to stop doing everything for them. Instead of doing it for them, show them how to do it. Let go, and you will be amazed by what your child can do!
- Build in extra time
Children take time to complete a task on their own, especially in the initial stage. Building in extra time keeps the pressure off you and also allows children to have enough time to learn at their own pace.
- Don’t strive for perfection
We don’t want them to be afraid of making mistakes. Letting children learn from their mistakes helps build resilience and is essential to raising a confident and happy child. Allowing them to struggle and sometimes fail, allows them to develop important social and emotional skills.
- Applauding their effort
Giving your child positive feedback when they complete a task and appreciating their effort works wonders in promoting their confidence!
- Provide choices
Allow your child to make choices and decide on things they want to do themselves. Giving choices within parameters provides children with safe boundaries within which they can practise doing things for themselves.
Letting your child develop independence can be challenging for parents but it is very rewarding. There are so many ways to prepare your child for independence and it should be a gradual process from a young age.
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori.