Developing and Supporting Your Child’s Independence

Developing your child’s independence and self-reliance is one of the most important things we can do for our children.   While academic learning is important, it does not, and can not, take the place of the value of self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and the ability to make things happen for oneself.   Independence and self-reliance form the foundation that supports all other learning as a key component of honing a child’s executive functioning skills.  As Montessori teachers, our goal is to provide an organized environment where everything makes sense for the child, things have a specific place and function, and they can navigate and be successful independently within it.  Everything from the room design and layout, furniture, Montessori materials, lessons, classroom and school rules, and teacher-child interactions are carefully planned and intended to support each child’s progression toward self-sufficiency and independence.  There is much current research relating to the importance of executive functioning skills as a predictor of a child’s future success in life and encouraging independent learning is the way to support your child’s developing executive functioning.

Characteristics of an independent learner:

  • Curious
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to self-monitor/self-examine
  • Accountable/responsible
  • Critical thinker/problem solver
  • Comprehension/Understanding without specific instruction
  • Persistent
  • Able to manage their time effectively

As parents and as educators we have the responsibility to keep our children safe, to nurture them, and to love them.  We must provide firm, consistent rules and boundaries, yet we must also allow children the ability to do as much for themselves as is developmentally appropriate.  If we intervene and do for children what they are capable of doing themselves, we rob them of vital learning and make them feel as if they are not competent or capable.  While the road to independence may not always be easy, over time, children rise to the level of the expectations we have of them.

To aid our collaborative effort as teachers and parents in promoting your child’s independence, we thought it would be a useful tool to have a shared set of benchmarks guiding our expectations of our students both at school and at home:

Developing & Supporting Your Child’s Independence

For more information relating to developing your child’s independence and executive functioning, you may also wish to read the articles listed below:

Sources and additional references:

Dr. Steve Hughes: Montessori and the Future of Education (video)

20 Tips for Parents from Preschool Teachers

Toddler Developmental Milestones

Developmental Milestones in babies and toddlers

Developmental Milestones: Separation & Independence (Age 5)

Developmental Milestone: Separation & Independence (Age 6-8)

Developing Independence in Children

Executive Functioning

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