The Road to Independence
November is an interesting time for your kindergartner. She is long past the excitement of the first days of school and is entering a time of increased academic focus and responsibility. She likely feels more confident in her abilities. At other times, she can feel uncertain as she continues to adjust to the demands of the “big kid” school.
Finding the Balance
Knowing what is reasonable to expect of your child and figuring out what she is not quite ready to do is a delicate dance — in all areas of her life. For example, it might be obvious that your 5 year old can dress herself and prepare for school, but you may not realize that she isn’t fully ready to handle the new assignments and expectations that arise at this time of year.
Try to go with your intuition. If your child is excited to demonstrate her independence by choosing her own outfits, let her. It might be frustrating when she changes her clothes three times before school, but she is expressing herself in a developmentally appropriate way. Because there is so little a 5-year-old has power over in her life, she may choose to assert control over something small, such as what to wear, what to take to school in her backpack, or even what to eat at mealtime.
The academic decisions about homework or show-and-tell items can be more challenging to your child. This is a good time to step in and assist her. Often at this stage children are not clear on homework instructions and simply need your help understanding what to do. They don’t need you to do it for them. Be sure you have clear directions from the teacher, and then explain them to your child. One good way to do this is to break down the task into small steps. This will help your child feel capable as she independently completes each step. This “small steps” approach can also help your child master household tasks.
Your support and patience are the keys to building your child’s sense of independence. You may need to have patience with your child as she experiments with her new skills. If she feels hurried, she will not feel confident. Allow time for her to explore these new skills with the knowledge of your unconditional love.