Independence enables preschoolers to cope with the demands of their daily lives in preschool, amongst their peers and in their relationships with their parents and other adults. A research on independence conducted by experts at the University of Cambridge showed that the development of independence can be noted on at least three levels in preschool children. Here are some skills that independent preschoolers should have on each of these levels:
The ability to function independently indicates emotional growth. Independent children can:
- Comprehend that their behavior has consequences. For example: ‘If I don’t listen to Mommy, I will get hurt.’
- Perform new tasks confidently.
- Resist distraction and focus on an activity to a degree.
- Seek assistance when they can’t complete a task.
- Persevere when a task is really difficult.
Independent children are adept in certain social skills. Here are some of the things that they are able to do:
- They try to resolve social problems with peers and are successful occasionally.
- They are beginning to show an awareness of the feelings and viewpoints of others.
- They can participate in independent cooperative play with their friends.
- They can share and take turns.
Independent children have the ability to motivate themselves and make plans to meet their own needs. Here are some of the motivational skills that they have:
- They can initiate activities.
- They can look for their own resources without adult help (within certain boundaries).
- They can develop their own way of carrying out tasks.
- They like to solve problems.
You can help your child develop independence by providing opportunities to practice the skills listed above on a daily basis. Remember that a firm foundation of love and acceptance provide the basis for bonding, socio-emotional growth and eventually independence. Make sure that you spend enough quality time with your child, especially during times where he may seem uncertain and insecure.
*Developing Independent Learning in Children aged 3-5 by Holly Anderson, Penny Coltman, Charlotte Page and David Whitebread.