Independence is all about your little one learning to do things for themselves, which includes making decisions and taking on responsibility.
These are hugely important skills for children to learn in order to be able to better cope in adulthood.
This blog post is all about supporting your little one as they grow to be more independent – we cover the importance of independence, what you can do at home to support this as well as additional resources for further info.
Let’s jump straight in!
Helping children become independent is so important that it’s actually part of the national nursery curriculum. This means that nurseries will focus on offering opportunities for your little one to develop their independence.
At nurseries, children are given plenty of opportunities to choose what to play with. These child-led activities are designed to allow little ones to explore and learn independently.
When children’s independence grows, so does their confidence. As they develop new skills or take on new responsibilities, they will begin to see themselves as being capable.
This gives children added confidence and makes them more likely to try out new things and excited to take on responsibilities.
Learning life skills is a big part of growing in independence and will also help your little one develop their Early Years skills (click here for our guide to the EYFS).
Physical development is one of these - particularly hand-eye coordination.
Lots of everyday tasks like hanging up clothes, pouring drinks, and clearing up toys all involve physical skills and help form a foundation which can be used later for writing and drawing.
Supporting your child’s learning at home
The best way to encourage your little one’s independence is to see what they can do already and build on it - e.g. if they can put their coat on – help them learn to independently do it up too!
If you’re teaching them something new, don’t make it a formal lesson – they’ll learn best just by being with you, watching and chatting.
The kitchen is a great place for this! Get your little one involved by washing veg, getting items out of the fridge, and preparing things for dinner. Getting them involved can also help with food fussiness (click here for our all you need to know guide).
Similarly, it can be useful to give your little one weekly responsibilities. Whether that’s setting the table, cleaning up their toys, feeding the cat etc.
Small regular tasks will help them feel capable (and more confident) as you put your trust in them – even when it’s something small!
It’s vital to allow enough time for your little one to complete these tasks. To start with they may need a little longer. Rushing them will only stress them and make them feel incapable.
Ignore the temptation to take over if your child is struggling with a task, sometimes a little more time or a few words of encouragement are all they need to succeed.
Giving your child choices is another way to help them feel more independent. Start off with easy choices – ‘would you like to wear t-shirt a or b today?’ or ‘would you like apple or orange juice?’.
As you allow them to make more choices over time, be sure to respect whatever they decide - even if it seems odd. Having their choices disregarded can undermine their confidence.