It's easier to do things for her, to precut and give directions for activities or to plan everything out. I know how things will go and what to expect for things that I plan. I noticed when she turned two that she was showing signs of wanting to do things her own way and to have some wiggle room on our projects. I took it as a sign she was growing up and getting opinions so I set out to help her learn how to be more independent. I still plan activities for her, but always give her opportunities for choice, free play and time to make up her own mind about things.
Confession: I have to make an effort to plan these activities into our routine because it's my nature to just make the plans and take over. I'm getting better at letting her be more independent as she's getting older and I'm LOVING watching her grow up and do new things. She loves helping me with chores, doing things together and loves to come up with activities on her own.
1. Teaching Olive how to walk with me through a store instead of riding in a cart or stroller. She's learning to look with her eyes and not with her hands, to ask permission to touch things, to explore a store and to be a good listener. We have been having fun going out and about together.
2. Give her opportunities to play with her brother without my help. This day she introduced him to all kinds of kitchen items and let him "taste test" food. They both loved this game. She enjoys teaching Fletcher how to play with his baby toys. She doesn't really need my help and Fletcher grins ear to ear most of the time. Occasionally I will intervene if things get too rough, but she has good intentions most of the time.
4. Pretend Play. I go along with her pretend play and let her be the boss of how it all plays out. Lately, she has been pretending with her horses and entertaining herself for hours. She asked me to get them some carrots and then she tucked them in for a nap. She was so proud of herself and her horse set up. I would never have thought of this game so I'm glad I let her come up with a game of her own.
5. Fletcher needs my help for most things, but we are just starting to see glimpses of independent play time. He loves his toys and is getting good at playing with them on his own. He's pretty proud of himself and I sit nearby and just watch him play.
6. Pretend Meals. I'll prepare a real dinner and these two work hard on their pretend meals for us. Fletcher is mostly interested in spatulas and Olive talks through things with him. We all work on the island together and it's fun to see what they come up with doing. I'll often give them similar utensils to mine and we work together.
7. Independent painting sounds scary, but I assure you it can be done. We set ground rules - paint on paper, no eating paint and stay seated while you paint - and it works out pretty well. I'll put out a bunch of supplies, go over the ground rules and then let her create anything she wants. I usually help with getting her new paper, talking to her while she paints, rinsing her brushes and helping her clean up at the end. I don't tell her what to paint, what colors to use or anything and just let her create. She seems so proud of the things she paints on her own and I love displaying them.
8. Books - we are working on reading lots of books together and then I leave those same books out for her to "read" to herself and her dolls later. She always picks up the books we've read together and then retells the story in her own words. We have been reading potty training books, rhyming books, bedtime books and then any other book that catches her eye. We're starting to pull out our fall & holiday books.
*I was gifted this book from Booklook in order for an honest review of it.
Itsy Bitsy Christmas is a sweet book about two mice who live in Bethlehem that come to share the Christmas story. Itsy and Bitsy are noticing some commotion in town and they're eager to see what the fuss is all about. They hear from other animals that there is a king coming to town so they go around asking questions about him. They finally stumble upon a stable to find a real king lying in the manger. The mice are amazed that a king named Jesus would come as a baby and be a king for everyone! My 3 year old enjoyed the story and keeps asking to read it again and again. I love the message and joy this book shares with my kids!
Independence Goals: I'm working on letting her be more independent when we play outside, go to the library, go out to eat, some basic chores around the house and to give her opportunities to play alone in her room. I've also been pinning some ideas for getting ready boards to include things like brushing teeth, getting dressed, cleaning up, etc for her to check off. We are both enjoying these new activities and it's exciting to see her learning these new skills.
What things do you do to help your kids learn to be more independent?
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