I Is For Independence

May 31

When a kindergarten teacher told me years ago that my child needed to learn to be more independent, I just couldn’t believe it! I mean, what was she thinking. He was only 5! I tried my best to keep smiling and go along, helping him to learn the skills she said he was lacking in and got through the year. Five years later I became a kindergarten teacher and a realization of what she was saying hit me full force. They do need to have a level of independence before they come to school to make life at school a go a little bit smoother.

So, let me start this by saying the best independence you can teach your child before school starts is to be able to take care of their own clothing and hygiene issues.

With clothing being able to zip their coats and pants, tie their shoes and put their sweater or sweatshirt on correctly will be a wonderful gift for your child and their classroom teacher. It’s not that your child’s teacher doesn’t want to help your child, it’s that they usually have 25 to 30 five year olds in the room at one time and we can’t possibly get to all of their coats and shoes before every recess or end of the day. This will get them out the door quicker and cut down on stress if you have a teacher that is running short on time.

The second thing you can help your child to learn is how and when to wash their hands. We use only soap and water in my school (no sanitizers are allowed). Knowing that they need to wash their hands before lunch and after they are in the bathroom at any time will help you to cut down on germs.

Other quick tips include teaching them to: Cough into their elbow instead of their hands; don’t touch tissues or old paper towels. And definitely if it is wet and not yours, don’t touch it at all.

It is kindergarten, children will sometimes get sick, or have accidents in the classroom. We always move quickly to keep all kids away from anything like that, but a sneeze towards a book or table can mean germs as well. I tell my students it is better to let me wash the book or table than to have to have a cold and miss school!

With all that said, my thinking has changed and I too now ask parents to help their children have a little bit of independence before they start school each year.


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