After years of watching kindergarten students acclimate to the classroom, some students set themselves apart from their peers quickly.
When looking at a typical group of kindergarten students, some stand out because they are very verbal or already good readers. Other students may shine because they have great drawing or writing skills. Then other students may stand out because they have more common sense, can problem solve and are very self sufficient in the classroom. They also know what is in their schoolbag!
Often, these students are some of my most successful learners!
After watching these students in my classroom, I see that what sets them apart is they are much more independent than their peers.
As simple as it sounds, these are the kids who know what is in their schoolbag and where to find it!
They don’t wait for an adult to help them, they are more confident in trying things themselves. They are not afraid to take responsibility for getting a job done. They may not have the answer to every academic question but they are the first to volunteer for anything.
These confident kids make great messengers, peer tutors and know where to find supplies in the classroom. They are not afraid to take a risk or try something new. As classroom learners, these are great skills to possess at a young age. Independence and confidence will help kids excel as students and become future leaders.
Try to encourage more independence in your child simply by helping them a little less. This will teach your child learn to do more on their own.
When a child packs his or her own schoolbag, they know what is there and what to give to the teacher. Rather than emptying and filling a child’s folder for them, let them take ownership. Tell your child that they have trip money, a permission slip or a book order so they become responsible to give it to their teacher. Then let them be in charge of delivering it.
Although it is often faster and easier to do certain things for your children, you may in fact, be doing them a disservice.
If you do too much for your child and make everything “easy” for them, you may be creating a more dependent child.
In short, if kids can do homework themselves, let them! Before you explain what to do, ask your child to explain to you what needs to be done on the page. This improves their language and thinking skills at the same time. If they know what to do, they should be working independently! If your child needs guidance, only help on the first few questions. Then back away and let them try on their own. Only give help when it is truly needed.
Let your kids do the first part of the page on their own and see if they are doing it correctly. If they need some help, give it but don’t help too much. I don’t want to take away my kid’s thinking time. Kids need more time than we do to think about the answers. If an answer is wrong, don’t tell them the right answer! This takes away a great problem solving opportunity. Instead, say, look at #3 again or read this question over one more time. This gives your child the chance to decide what was wrong, why it is wrong and how to get the correct answer. This is where the real thinking, learning and carryover to other problems happens. If your child still needs help, try guiding them to finding the answer rather than just telling them.
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Teach your child the best way to pack their lunch box and then let them do it! Let them choose their own snack, from approved choices of course. They don’t need to make their own lunch yet, just let them learn how to pack it. This teaches children to be responsible, manage their time in the morning and hopefully make good food choices.
Being Prepared for Class
Rather than saying, today is Tuesday, you need to return your library book. Slowly shift the remembering and responsibility to your child. Ask him, What day is it? What do you need to remember on Tuesdays? This small change of asking rather than telling, helps your child learn to think and plan ahead.
When you spend your career studying 5 year olds, these subtle differences are noticeable even in kindergarten! Sometimes birth order plays a part in this but not always. I have seen this capable confidence in first borns, last borns and only children. My belief is that it has more to do with parenting styles than other factors.
Try to do a little less for your child so he or she learns to do more on their own. When children can think and problem solve, it helps them to be more confident and independent.