Helping your child to develop independence
The National Association for Headteachers (NAHT) and Family Action have produced some advice for parents to encourage their children to develop independence and a sense of responsibility so they are ready to learn every day.
Preparing for Reception onwards (age 4 – 7)
The start of independence.
Teach your child to use the toilet (and urinal) independently; this will improve their self-esteem when they are at school with their peers
- Teach your child how to clean their teeth
- Ensure they can dress themselves and put on their own coat
- Teach your child to use a knife and fork
- Encourage them to carry their own bag to school
- Be confident when dropping them off at school; don’t let them ‘cling’ to you at the school gate
- Encourage them to become a ‘playground friend’ or ‘school buddy’
- Support them to hang up their school uniform ready for the next day
- Include them when completing household tasks
Preparing for Year 3 onwards (age 7 – 11)
Supporting your child to organise themselves.
Take turns in finding the way to the shops, playground, etc; this will give them confidence when navigating their way around the school building and playground
- Support them to make their own bed each morning
- Make them responsible for organising their own homework activities
- Ensure they pack their own school bag in plenty of time
- Encourage them to walk or cycle to school by themselves or with friends when it’s safe to do so
- Make time for your child to play out with their friends in a safe area
- Encourage them to become a ‘reading buddy’ and to take on responsibilities at school
Preparing for high school (age 11+)
Supporting your child to be responsible for themselves
Ensure your child is aware of the dangers of using social media and the internet inappropriately
- Teach them to manage a small budget
- Create a tidy space at home for them to complete their homework
- Show them how to create a study timetable; encourage them to complete their homework without unnecessary help or intervention
- Explain the importance of packing the right equipment for school each day; eg, calculator, books, PE kit
- Encourage them to travel independently by public transport, bike or foot
- Make them aware of the costs of using a mobile phone
- Teach them how to prepare a simple meal
- Ensure they change their bed regularly
Hints and tips for encouraging independence:
Set appropriate boundaries for your child but help them to try out new things
- Try to guide your child rather than tell them what to do; this will encourage them to develop their own thoughts and ideas with your support
- Give positive support when your child faces challenges
- Praise effort rather than success and help them see we all learn from mistakes
- Don’t do everything for your child, even if that seems easier!
- Try to be positive when your child is demonstrating independence
NAHT and Family Action have produced a number of other leaflets providing support for parents and schools.