Nurturing Young Children's Independence
Updated: May 14, 2021
This blog was written by Ms Shelby - Class Teacher, Kindergarten Quolls
In our Kinder Quoll’s class, we are encouraging children as they continue to develop their independence in completing tasks for their health, hygiene, and physical well-being. We help children accomplish these tasks with as much assistance as needed for each child’s individual development and needs. As children learn and make errors or accomplish a new skill, our classroom staff is there to gently correct and encourage them or praise them for their persistence in learning a new skill. A few of the skills we have been focusing on in our classroom are settling into the morning and taking off and putting on our shoes.
As children come into the classroom they are greeted by our classroom staff and then encouraged to begin to settle in before going to play. This routine usually stays the same so that children can learn the routine and remember the steps. Children are encouraged to take off their backpacks or asking for help if their bags have snaps that need to be undone.
Removing their water and placing it in our designated spot and then being responsible for putting their backpack in their cubby. Next children learn to sit on the floor to safely remove their shoes without tripping, slipping, or falling over. The children then know that their shoes are to go on our shoe shelf, and then their hands should be cleaned before playing. Staff are always present assisting children as needed but encouraging them to take appropriate risks in completing their routine.
One of the biggest ways we have been encouraging independence inside and outside of the classroom is by having children take off and put on their shoes.
As stated above, for taking off shoes we encourage children to sit so that they can focus on the task of taking off their shoes instead of worrying about balancing and taking off shoes simultaneously. This task can at first feel overwhelming for children, and sometimes for parents or caretakers as well, so using the same steps and guiding phrases will help as children learn this routine. Starting by sitting down with our shoes, showing or telling which shoe goes on which foot, and then looking at our feet, shoes and hands the whole time we are putting them on is very helpful. Depending on the kind of shoe children use will change how we model, but shoes often require a hand holding the top and/or the back near the heel. If there are loops or straps to hold I encourage children to use these as they push or wiggle their foot into the shoe. The last step can often be forgotten as children celebrate getting their foot into their shoes, and this is making sure any straps are secured so their foot doesn’t come sliding back out!
Once both shoes are on we like to use encouraging phrases such as,
‘You did it!’,
‘I saw that you worked so hard to put on your shoes. Sometimes we work hard to do something.’,
‘I am so proud of you for trying to put your shoes on by yourself! It is so good to learn new things.’
Any new skill young learners are in the beginning stages of can take time and patience from all involved, but their smiles and sense of accomplishment when they’ve mastered a new skill is unmatched!