FOSTERING INDEPENDENCE

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
I. Caregiver Reflections
II. @Home Experience
III. Caregiver Tips

What if all children were raised to be independent, compassionate, and open-minded citizens? Fostering a child’s INDEPENDENCE while they are young, and in our care, is an important way to help them grow confidence in their ability to solve problems and take on challenges.

What might that look like @Home?

Whether it’s encouraging a child to tie their own shoes, or try a real knife in the kitchen, our home environments are ripe with opportunity! 

Parents and caregivers often want to protect children from failure or adversity—especially when the world outside feels out of control.

As you spend more time together @Home, experiment with ways of offering children more AUTONOMY.



While this is far easier said than done, remind yourself that children often do not remember circumstances in great detail, but they will remember these empowering moments of independence for many years to come. 


CAREGIVER REFLECTIONS



Think about a time in your childhood when you successfully navigated an experience that was challenging & new:
•  What was the challenge? How old were you?  
•  What emotions did you feel in the beginning?
•  What problem-solving strategies did you use?
•  What emotions did you feel after you were able to accomplish it?  

Now, think about new opportunities your child might be ready to try on their own:
•  How might you set them up to approach this situation meaningfully?
•  How can you offer support nearby, while still letting them problem-solve on their own?  
•  How might your own story impact the way in which you encourage your child try something new today? 


@HOME EXPERIENCE
The Path to Independence


The Montessori approach supports children in gaining independence as members of a household.

Explore suggestions from that school of thought for activities that encourage autonomy in your child—while understanding that every child is unique & travels an equally unique road to independence!  

Opportunities for Independence:
Toddlers (2–3 years)
Care of Self
Put on Shoes • Walk without Being Carried • Hang up Coat • Open/Close Lunchbox or Food Container • Carry Own Belongings • Feed Self from Open Cup • Entertain Self (without TV or electronic devices) • Eat with Utensils 
 
Care of Environment
Clean Up & Put Away Toys in Their Place • Help Wash Veggies • Water Plants • Clean up Spills • Help Sweep with Small Broom • Help Carry Laundry • Respect Other Living Creatures • Help with Simple Chores (make bed / place dishes in dishwasher)
 
 
Early Childhood (3–6 years)
Care of Self
Help Make Lunch • Help Brush Hair & Teeth (with supervision & support) • Dress Self • Carry Own Belongings • Hang up Coat • Use Bathroom Independently • Pour Beverages / Eat with Utensils • Carry Dishes to Sink • Climb into/out of Car Seat/Booster • Help Clean Up Spills 
 
Care of Environment
Help Set Table • Sort & Put Away Silverware (& Toys!) • Clean up Spills • Sweep Floors • Tidy Room • Help with Laundry (sort socks, fold towels) • Help Prepare Veggies/Fruit • Help Plant Flowers/Seeds, Weed Beds or Water Plants • Take Care of Pet (offer water/food & help clean up after) • Help Wash Car

 
Lower Elementary (6–9 years)
Care of Self
Wake to an Alarm Clock & Get Dressed • Make Own Breakfast • Brush & Floss Daily • Fill Own Water Bottle • Pack Lunch • Serve Self • Complete Homework & Submit • Get into or out of Booster Seat • Pick up after Self • Return Items to Where They Belong
 
Care of Environment
Make Bed • Put Away Laundry • Feed, Care for & Clean up after Pets • Put Away Toys, Games & Books  • Set Table • Help do Dishes • Sort Trash/Recycling/Yard Waste • Help with Yard Work • Sweep/Vacuum Floors • Read a Book to Parents or Siblings • Help Wash Car
 
 

CAREGIVER TIPS 

The use of tools or symbols can help to make the experience an empowering one for your child:
A spray bottle with a homemade label that says, "PLANTS" &/or includes a picture of a plant.
A scooper that says "CAT" to feed your kitty, &/or a picture of a cat.
A basket for collecting items that need to be cleaned.
A brush & dustpan to help clean up/dry spills. 


“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
—Maria Montessori 

Assigning titles to tasks can also be very meaningful:
Who would like to be the "Cup Helper" today?
   (Hand out cups to the family during a meal).
Will you be my "Door Holder" while I bring in the groceries please?
Who would like to be the "Mail Helper"?
   (Pro Tip: Even more fun if there's a key involved!)
 
Refrain from solving problems by asking questions:
Resist the urge to solve problems for your child right away. Instead, try asking them a question to support their critical thinking skills.
How might we think about this problem differently?
Who else could help you with this, such as a sibling or friend?
 
When adults refrain from rushing in to rescue children who face minor challenges, children develop confidence in their abilities to think & experiment. 

 

This can lead to JOY & intrinsic motivation to continue!