We live in a world where employment, household economics and lack of time often outweigh the developmental needs of young children. We increasingly see little children set aside, not deliberately but because of necessity, just so the household can run smoothly amongst the chaos of everyday life.
What of the needs of the next generation?
How will these children learn the basics of everyday life if they spend their time doing things, such as watching screens and playing electronic games, none of which assist them to learn basic human skills.
Can we rely on the schooling system to teach children what they need to lead a successful life into adulthood? The average preschool and early primary scenario has little emphasis on life skills but on play and then academic learning. Who should show them, for example, how to prepare and clean their environment, how to grow and make food and be sustainable in their practice.
It is very important to show little children self-management in the home environment. The home is the basis to scaffolding life… showing the children the culture that the parents want for their family.
This environment is where children have the expected behaviour modelled to them from the very beginning. It takes prior preparation to teach children, within the chaos of everyday life, the skills that they require, but it can be done and not only that, it leads to a more harmonious home.
This article is a guide to encouraging children with learning all they require to become self–sufficient and to be responsible for their actions in the home. These guidelines are taken from the book The Parenting 5 – Practical and Independent Little People.
Children who can manage for themselves have a solid neurological foundation for attention and concentration to task, self-discipline, muscular and movement development, sensory learning for brain growth, language and communication skills, problem solving and preparation for later academic needs. Children who self-manage also have better self-esteem development leading to a healthy self-concept.
“I can do it for myself!” and “I did it!” – How often have these been heard when little children achieve something. It’s not in vain; they are building self-esteem and they are becoming a capable person.
Here is a quick checklist of ideas taken from Practical and Independent Little People to help children develop self-sufficiency:
1. Little children thrive with self-management when they are provided an ongoing, yet flexible routine so they are aware of what comes next, what they need and what they need to do.
2. Children manage better when they are provided furniture and tools that are their size so they do not need adult assistance to use them.
3. Prepare the environment with these furnishing and tools in every room that they play and learn. This may include the play area, the kitchen and laundry, the bedroom, the bathroom and toilet and outdoors. For example, place steps in the right areas and place tools in baskets where they can be easily accessed.
4. Limit the amount of things in each environment by displaying things beautifully for them to encourage them to put things away after use (children will model what they see, if they see chaos they will model it).
5. Ask yourself if what is prepared allows the children to follow through the whole process, does it contain all the things and order they require to begin, do the task and clean up.
6. Ensure the practical skill being taught is equal to the children’s level of development.
7. Connect with children at eye level, use clear articulate language and show them the skills of everyday life, in simple steps as they grow.
8. Have behavioural limits and expectation that are known from the beginning. How will each step be managed, from beginning right through to how the children will pack away.
9. Remain calm if the children make a mistake, have a spill or breakage because they are learning.
10. Repeat a step or increase learning to the next step, dependant on readiness and developmental level.
11. When children want to assist in everyday life, allow them to. Take a moment to think what is more important at the time. Rushing or giving life lessons that may take a few seconds.
Preschool children that engage life skills in a well-designed space will have their developmental needs met and become practical and independent. Resulting self-esteem and a healthy self –concept will emerge and further assist their potential as a whole.
Experience throughout the early years lays the foundation for both neurological and physical wellbeing. An excellent early environment delivers readiness for life. Never again is there a period that is so influential on the make up of the human being. The Parenting 5 books assist parents and carers in creating the desired environment of preschoolers at home.
Want to know more? Purchase the e-book or paperback of The Parenting 5 – Practical and Independent Little People here (and watch out for Sensory Motor Play for Little People coming soon)