Teaching Independence in Small Children

"School is your business, your job, and your responsibility."

As a classroom teacher I taught my third and fourth grade students many ways to become more independent and responsible.

One thing I did not tolerate was to hear, "My mom forgot to..."  I always would say, "Wait, whose job is it to come to school everyday and write down their assignments in their note pad, and go to their locker and put important papers in their folders to go home?  Whose responsibility is that?"

I set high expectations and I was always so proud of my students because not only did we have fun learning in the classroom, but we didn't need to waste time with discipline problems, we could cut to the chase and get to the fun of learning new things.

As I draw nearer to having this baby, and even when I was pregnant with Mark, I remember teaching Julia things that other 15-17 month olds didn't necessarily do.  She learned to eat by herself, use her own silverware, put her clothes in the hamper, and even help mommy set the table.  I knew I was going to have my hands full with a newborn and already I was trying to teach and equip her with the necessary skills she would need around our home.  I think this is why so many people say Julia is so "old" for her age, and so "motherly and nurturing" at a young age she was taught how to be responsible and independent and she never knew any different.  She was even out of her high chair before 18 months because I knew pretty soon Mr. boy would need it...she was joining us at the table in a booster seat like a regular toddler.

Since I home school we have our own flow and routine each day.  As mommy gets bigger and mommy gets nearer to this next newborn we have sat down and set some ground rules and goals of our morning flow.  We actually did this right after the New Year.  We sat at the table and came up with a list of 7 things we need to do every morning...and these are things the kids do totally on their own...even my Mark, and he's 3.

This morning John slept in and he came downstairs where I fell asleep because the couch has been more comfortable these days, and he said,

"Babe, did you know that Julia gets dressed, makes her bed and puts her lotion on after breakfast?"

Yes, love, she's supposed to.

This is how we roll:

1. Potty
2. Eat breakfast
3. Get dressed
4. Make our bed
5. Clean our room
6. Bible story
7. Pray
High expectations for a 5 year old and 3 year old?  Absolutely!  And do they rise to meet the challenge?  Absolutely.  However, I may have to tweak when Julia decides to wear a spring dress in February, or Mark decides to wear his spider man boots on a sunny warm day...but I'm learning that if I want them to feel independent and be independent then sometimes I have to pick my battles.  Like for example, today Julia wore a black and white striped dress with brown tights and a pink headband...did I change it?  Nope!  All I did was brush the back of her hair.  And sometimes their outfits KILL me because they don't match, but I have to remember what is really important.

The kids even set their own breakfast table without help and get the cereal boxes out.  John or I will pour their milk in cups to use in their cereal and we pour them some orange juice and give them their vitamins.  But all this independence means that way baby #3 comes I will have a routine in place, the kids will know what is expected, and I will have free hands to hold the baby while the big kids do their jobs.  This makes home school a lot easier because by 8 a. m. they are dressed and ready for school...I'm not, but they are...it gives me time to shower and get ready and we usually start our drills and school work by 9 a .m.

This has really been working for us the past several months and so I just wanted to share it!  After we had our goal lesson after New Years I made each child a list that you see above with their name on it.  It's on the cork board in their rooms as a reminder of their jobs and responsibilities.  It makes them feel grown up!


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1 comment:

  1. Awesomeness!! Two things i believe we need to give our kids..roots and wings. Maddy doesnt have such a "list" per se..but she def knows our morning drill!! My kids are very independent and i wouldnt have it any other way!!!

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