Building Independence in Elementary Children

2nd plane of development freedom and responsibility independence lower elementary upper elementary Oct 15, 2020

Through the freedom and activity given to the child, the child gains knowledge about the responsibilities of their family and school community. As the child becomes more active, it is the adult’s responsibility to make the child aware of how they could be responsible for their own activities. This is done by setting limits. These are often tiny aspects of responsibility that need to be a part of the child’s life from the beginning.

As the adults in the child’s life, we have the job of getting the child involved in the construction of their own independence. Children should be given choice starting from a very early age, but it is the adult’s job to limit that choice. Instead of asking the young child what they want to wear. you can offer two pieces they can choose from. There are also many age-appropriate chores for the child. At age 2-3, they can help clean up spills, dust shelves, and fill a pet’s food dish. At age 3-6, the children can help with making their own bed, clearing the table, and pulling weeds. The more the child is able to do, or rather, the more they are allowed to do, the more they develop and the more independent they become. Click here for a list of age-appropriate chores.

In the Elementary, the children are practically begging for more responsibilities and opportunities for independence. They want to open their lunch containers by themselves, they play at the creek alone, they want to ride their bike to the library without the adult, etc. As the adults in their lives, of course, we limit what we need to, but it’s also important to appeal to the child’s reasoning mind. We delineate chores or responsibilities and allow them chances to experience consequences if they shirk their duties. You may hear the adults in your child’s classroom say, “Wow! All these encyclopedias are out of order. How am I ever to find the one that says S on it?” or “Hmmm… I wonder why all of our plants are dying!”

It is important to keep in mind, we need to take the time to teach the child these new skills before we ask them to take on new responsibilities. When teaching your child, you may need to break the task down into several steps, demonstrate how to do the tasks, and then review the steps with them.  Sometimes drawing a picture or writing down the steps can be helpful.

If you have any questions about independence, reach out to Laura or your child's Elementary Guide. They would love to sit and chat with you about how to help your child appropriately develop their independence. 

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