It begins with belief
Zipping up a jumper or opening a jar of vegemite may take your child a little longer but allowing them the time to do it for themselves, at their own pace, means more than saving time.
When we see a child as capable – of carrying out simple tasks, making decisions, expressing themselves – it changes everything! Given the opportunities to succeed and learn through everyday activities, such as doing up that zipper, empowers children and lays the foundation for future learning and development.
Here are some everyday ways you can help to raise confident, resilient, and empathetic little humans while building language skills.
In the kitchen
Empowering a child with helping to decide and make what’s on the menu is the way to a happy heart and a happy tum. Build language skills as you talk through the recipe and weigh out the ingredients. Ask open-ended questions such as, “What would you like to make next time?” and “Why?” and see how their eyes light up given such responsibility!
When you spend time talking and intently listening to your child, you’re letting them know you value their ideas, so it gives them a sense of ownership over them, which boosts their confidence.
At the table
Mealtime is a great opportunity for your little one to help set the table. Practise using your ‘not-so-special’ tableware and see just how much they know from watching you! Talk about how we use each item and why we put them in certain places. Discover new words such as ‘cutlery’, ‘saucer’ and ‘serviette’. If your child is old enough, encourage them to serve their own meal or drink. You’ll be feeding their curiosity while they’re feeding themselves!
The conversation that takes place around the dinner table - sharing opinions and ideas and listening to one another – also helps your child learn to express themselves and builds their sense of identity and understanding of the world. Even if your little one isn’t talking yet, they’re taking it all in – the ebb and flow of conversation, the words you use, the tone of your voice.
Allow a little extra time before your next outing so your little one can practise putting on their own shoes and tying their laces. Sing a tune as you do the action …
“This is the way we put on our shoes, put on our shoes, put on our shoes, this is the way we put on our shoes, before we leave the house.”
When you get home, encourage your child to put away their belongings. Don’t forget to thank them and tell them what a wonderful job they’ve done! It may not feel like it at the time, but when your child masters a new skill, at their own pace, they’ll feel a little taller in our big world.
There are so many hidden benefits in our daily routines that encourage self-help skills, independent learning. And when we put words to our actions and model appropriate language, your child will develop different ways to express themselves.
Most importantly, if we believe in them, they will believe in themselves!
Books about being independent:
- All by Myself by Mercer Mayer
- I Do It by Andrew Daddo
- All the Ways to be Smart by Davina Bell
- What We’ll Build by Oliver Jeffers
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
- Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
- The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield
- All by Myself by Aliki
- What’s My Superpower by Aviaq Johnston
- I Can Do It Myself! By Stephen Krensky
Ask your local library for more suggestions if these are not available.